TRACK PREMIERE: ‘Seishi’, by Dai-ichi

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No statements

Death is real

Death is coming

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Boy, do we have something special for you today. When this mysterious project first fell into my lap my initial reaction was one of curiosity and surprise: oni-masked figures in leather jackets, wielding katanas, Japanese kanji everywhere… what the fuck is THIS? Then, when I actually heard the thing – holy shit. I instantly wanted to rave about it to anyone within earshot but I was sworn to secrecy by the powers that be, threatened with death (or worse) should I even let slip its existence.

Weeks passed, and felt like years. A subversive teaser track eventually surfaced (the disturbing, atmospheric interlude ‘Mokushi’) creating an ominous buzz in the deepest subterranean channels. The unveiling had begun; yet it still gnawed away at my mind every time I listened. This thing needed to be heard… which is why today Black Metal Daily is honoured and excited beyond words (and also incredibly fucking relieved) to finally reveal ‘Seishi’, the first full-track taste of the eponymous debut album from Dai-ichi.

Who are these shadowed beings? Where did they come from? To be honest, I’ve no idea. Firmly obscured under a veil of darkness they are refusing all interviews, making no statements and giving out no information about themselves or the release at all. This is everything publicly known: Dai-ichi means “first” in Japanese. The dyad go by the names Yūrei and Han Kirisuto, with the former handling all vocals/concepts and the latter all composition and instruments. The label states that the record is possibly for fans of Ildjarn, Vlad Tepes and Akitsa… and it is very, very good.

With their ear-splitting assault these men channel hidden demons, acting as a conduit for the restless souls and spirits of the dead to re-enter our world and exact revenge… before being trapped here for an eternity. Punkish venom meets howling raw melancholia and pestilential black melodies that seemingly emanate from Yomi or another otherworldly plane. Our track ‘Seishi’ is the ultimate composition in the running order: a mid-paced, corrosive vortex of lacerating vocal resonations and soaring tremolo lines, conjuring images of both darkened forests of death and the echoing remnants of life from another era. Yearning and bordering on transcendent, it truly is the fitting culmination of this magical work – the sound of wandering spirits, lost and burning with hatred.

Like the monstrous devil of the striking Alyssa Mocere cover art (entitled “Happy Times In Fukushima”) this spectral beast only exists to devour man and demands total supplication. So, what are you waiting for? Prostrate thyself. Babble your useless prayers. Submit to the glory of ‘Seishi’ and be utterly consumed by the timeless wrath of Dai-ichi. Your death is here, and it is inevitable.

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Dai-ichi releases 31st October. Vinyl pre-orders available now via Fólkvangr Records, cassette forthcoming through Not Kvlt Records.

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Pre-order Dai-ichi digitally on Bandcamp here, or on LP from the Fólkvangr Records webstore here. Be quick – selling fast.

Support Dai-ichi:

  • No social media or internet presence.

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

Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

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ALBUM PREMIERE & INTERVIEW – Geistaz’ika’s ‘Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel’

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“GEISTAZ’IKA is the eradication of the flesh and the evocation of the spirit. A submission to darkness where the tormented creatures of the night howl their laments for all who make the voyage into the seething cauldron of the forest.”

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The Danish black metal scene truly is one of the best going around these days. With countless artists pushing boundaries, expanding the genre and seemingly releasing incredible albums on a daily basis (I’m not going to list them all here, do a quick search and be blown away if you’re unawares) it’s almost a surprise to be surprised by how good a new release is. Well, enter Geistaz’ika.

Shrouded in mystery, their debut album Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel came out of absolutely nowhere on the very last day of 2018… and I missed it. Released only digitally through the now-deleted Afgrundsvisioner Bandcamp it somehow escaped my attention, which may have tragically meant I’d go the rest of my days without experiencing it, unawares of its delights – if it wasn’t for the indomitable Signal Rex who are now unleashing the beast to the audience and in the physical formats that it deserves, and who are also partnering with us here at BMD to release the entire full stream for your perusal today.

One of the most captivatingly textured albums I’ve heard so far this year, it follows a concept through raging paths and emotive meanderings that you’ll never expect and with a potent folk-infused concoction envelops your spirit, taking you to realms of which you’ll have never dreamed. I’ve no idea who the the people behind this unique work may be (although there are a few rumours flying around), or when the project was even summoned into existence… so it’s incredibly fortunate we have one of its nameless creators here to chat with us and hopefully allow a glimmer of insight into the enigma that is Geistaz’ika.

So, you know what to do – listen to Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel in full ahead of its August 30th release date, read on below and get ready to pick yourself up an LP or CD of this incredible manifestation of ancient spellcraft when you can. Hails.

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Greetings Geistaz’ika, sincerest thanks for granting us this interview. Today we have the extreme pleasure of streaming your debut album Trolddomsejd I skovens dybe kedel ahead of its August 30th release through Signal Rex – and it’s a spellbinding journey all the way from the eerie beginnings of opener ‘O nat du skumle Hex’ to the final notes of epic closer ‘Tågedans’, possessed of an ancient magic that’s been missing from all too many recent releases. A wonderful representation of the spiritual heart of black metal. So, tell us a little about it! What was your intention with its creation?

– Thank you. It’s been a long and interesting journey shaping the album. Mainly the focus has been to create a soundtrack for the feelings and emotions rooted in Scandinavian folklore. Superstition, total depravity and submission combined; dread but also fascination for the darkness and what dwells within. Musically it needed to walk through stages of gloom, anger, desperation, resignation and also keep a straight narrative from start until the end. That was the intention.

I’m unfortunately unable to speak Danish, but Google Translate tells me the album title means “Witchcraft in the deep chain of the forest”, which is probably incorrect – although it does aptly describe the feeling the album instills in the listener. The song titles translate to things like “When The Sun Bleeds Red” and “In The Mirrored World”, which sound intriguing – what themes or message does the album carry?

– Replace chain with cauldron and the translation is almost accurate. Instead of witchcraft we used the word “sejd” which is a more specific word regarding a pagan ritual which is one of the themes of the album. The whole title is a reference to a poem by Danish 19th century writer and druid Sophus Michaëlis. The lyrics are a semi-conceptual narrative on how a person’s condemnation from her fellow man leads into the dark arts and the world beyond.

The cauldron of the forest is a symbol of the womb of the witch in where the children of the night is waiting. The latter half of the album is the individual stories of those creatures. How they came to be, and how they prey on those who seek them. Thus an era ends and a new cycle begins.

As the album progresses I can hear early Ulver vibes within these songs; which then makes me think of the now-debunked urban legend of the Norwegians recording Nattens Madrigal in a forest. I’m sure nothing as wild as that took place here, but I’m curious – were there any unique or special circumstances (physical or mental) necessary for any part of the album’s creation, either the recording process or even the writing stages?

– As I recall a hurricane was going on while we recorded the lead vocals. A Danish hurricane though, so nothing really special about that. Nothing else, but most of the album was recorded in a studio located in a forest.

Getting in the right emotional stage for writing is important, but I think it comes natural. The before mentioned feelings is still deeply rooted in many of us and it can get to you even though civilisation has progressed and superstition is more or less condemned. You don’t need to go to the graveyard and wait until the clock strikes 12 to see or feel their presence.

A surprising touch throughout the album are the choral vocals that frequently come into play – they add a whole other layer to proceedings, providing marvelous depth and gravitas. How were they recorded? Are they actual vocalizations, or synthetically created?

– They are not synthetically created. Just a singer with a microphone.

I’ve already mentioned Ulver – but there are many more artists this release reminds me of (the press release aptly mentions Isvind, Perished and Hades). Were there any artists you were knowingly inspired by during the creation of Trolddomsejd? Or conversely, did any non-musical art have any influence on the album?

– Not so many metal bands except of course the obvious ones you also mention. It’s more like short melodies or voices that can come from anywhere. You can get three notes stuck in your head for a whole day, not realizing where they came from, and then add some extra chords/voices/effects etc. and then you have the basis for the middle-section and ending of ‘Dødens Horeunge’ and the introduction of ‘Taagedans’, to name an example. Overall the music needs to reflect the emotions and atmosphere of the lyrics and the concept. It can be hard to do that in a subjective way and get it to sound like something you would actually like to hear.

Whilst knowing the personnel behind an album is definitely secondary to the music itself and can even at times distract from a pure experience of the art, I must mention that I heard rumour Nohr of Draug, Grav and a variety of other excellent projects is amongst your ranks. Now, due to the accomplished and powerful nature of the album I would guess that this is not your first foray into black metal. So I will ask: would you be willing to shed any light on who has taken part in the creation of Trolddomsejd i skovens dybe kede, or is this information forever to remain a secret?

– Nohr is having some guest appearance on this album, but not as the lead vocalist, as was in the rumors I had heard. There are a lot of guest musicians appearing on the album, some with a long background in black metal and some with less. I wouldn’t call it a secret, but I find it irrelevant so I won’t post information about the performers until I find a good reason to. But also seeing how desperate people are to get extra points on metal-archives these days I wouldn’t be surprised if it got out some time.

Following on from that, if I may press further – I have no idea how long Geistaz’ika has even been active for. How, when and why did the project come into existence?

– I have no idea either, to be honest. Some riffs/phrases/lyrics in Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel date back to the last decade. A lot has been written, re-written, recycled and re-used. The first (unreleased) rehearsal of the full length is from 2012 (as I recall), and then later on was rearranged and revived before and during the final recording which started during the summer of 2016.

The album was originally released digitally but was snapped up for CD and LP release by Signal Rex fairly quickly, I believe. Did you expect there would be so much interest in your creation? How have you found working with Signal Rex so far?

– It is correct. Since the project as mentioned had been going on for quite a while the main goal was just to finish it. Didn’t think much of what was next, and since Signal Rex was pretty quick to offer a physical release it happened by itself. But it was nice to see the album getting positive attention. Also very satisfied with what Signal Rex has done so far.

Something that I’m curious about that could just be a coincidence – that original digital release took place on 31st December 2018. Was there any special significance to this date?

– Yes, the date marks an end of an era and a new beginning.

The cover art is interesting; a pencilwork drawing of what could be a crystal ball containing an image of a swirling forest scene and shadowed body. Who is the artist? Is this intended to portray the forest of the title?

– The cover summons up the whole concept of the album in a simple way. Human despair, and then the submission, when you see it surrounded in darkness waiting for you. All portrayed in a dream(like) trance. That’s when it happens. When you can’t tell dream from reality. It’s drawn by Nohr btw.

Looking to the future, what’s next for Geistaz’ika? Are you working on any new material, or have you considered playing live?

– A new full-length is going to see the light of day. Most likely exploring deeper into the original sin, chastity and hypocrisy, but it’s still in it’s writing process.

Live-shows are also a likely possibility. We will see about that when we get there.

And finally – I try to not ask this question usually, but Geistaz’ika is such a fascinating name and I cannot find any hints as to the meaning of it. So; what is the meaning behind this name? What is it emblematic of?

– It’s a wordplay on being holy, dead and an evoked spirit at the same time. But in order to understand it you need to know Danish and some indo-European. It will be up to the ones interested to figure it out. I would be quite impressed if a non-Danish speaker did that!

Sincerest thanks for your time and the superb debut album, it truly is something special. Any final words you would like to leave us with?

– You’re welcome. I probably said enough already.

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Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel releases August 30th on CD, LP and digital via Signal Rex.

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Pre-order Geistaz’ika‘s Trolddomssejd i Skovens Dybe Kedel digitally from Bandcamp here, or on CD/LP from Signal Rex here on August 30th.

Support Geistaz’ika:

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

ALBUM PREMIERE & INTERVIEW: Hagzissa’s ‘They Ride Along’

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Fluids shall furthermore sharpen the blade

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I’m going to cut straight to it here: we have something special for you today. Something far and away from the usual fare; something insidious and untamed. What is that something, I hear you ask? That something is the debut full-length from the mysterious and shadowed Austrian entity of Hagzissa.

Those in tune with such things will recall this enigmatic collection of souls quietly releasing a ripper demo in 2017 under the banner of Iron Bonehead Productions. That demo was raw yet shimmering with an arcane magic; bewitching the few that heard it and leaving them salivating at the thought of further delights. Now, two long years on from that auspicious first conjuration the feverish anticipation is now allayed – the four horsemen return once more through Iron Bonehead with the fully realised and blazing new form of that early work; entitled They Ride Along.

In their unique robes and with manic fervour they reap madness with their newly polished spells; eight shrieking and howling odes to the primal and otherworldly. It’s music that sounds like it’s been whipped to your ears on laughing winds as you stand in ragged cloth at the crossroads at midnight. As the press release states Hagzissa really do walk a wild path of ancient wickedness; unfettered from the norms of regular existence, dancing on that gossamer-thin line between this earthly realm… and the other.

But I don’t want to ramble on about it too much, because here to beckon you along the shadowpath is founder/vocalist/bassist B. Moser himself and he gives us a wonderfully detailed glimpse into the shrouded mysteries of Hagzissa plus the creation of They Ride Along. So free your mind, call forth the spirits, listen to the full intoxicating concoction ahead of its August 23rd release date, and read on below if you dare. Hails.

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Greetings B. Moser! I hope you are well. Your debut album They Ride Along is being premiered in full today, and it’s a wild beast of untamed black metal and diabolical grooves. So, tell us a little about it – what message does it bring, and what does it mean to you?

– First of all, I would like to thank you for the presentation of the whole album and also for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you here.

The title They Ride Along is short for ‘They Ride Along on the Howling Winds!’ which is, I think, the third complete song I ever wrote for what turned out to be Hagzissa. It must have been sometime between 2012 and 2013 and I always used to wander about in the calm, empty fields of my small home town in absolute darkness. You know, your mind then tends to play some tricks on your senses and while walking for hours, one ultimately starts to hear and see things. Most of the time it has been very cold and moist so the winds really told me stories. But, I am aware that those kind of stories only will be told at night, at pitchest, darkest night. My home town is one of the oldest in Austria and the area is very rich of tales and lore. The devil is no stranger in those tales, but there are many twisted and bizarre figures one might stumble upon when walking all alone. It’s been alluring, a fascinating time for me. I moved away some years ago; but occasionally I go on one of those walks again and instantly recall that savage energy, which still knows how to shake me to my innermost. They truly ride along those winds!

Your 2017 demo introduced a few of these songs to us, but They Ride Along presents those tracks in a new light – the sound is greatly updated, the murk is gone and everything packs a powerful gut-punch. Is this how you always envisioned Hagzissa to sound when you were writing these songs? What was it like seeing them take their final form during the recording process?

– Honestly speaking, when I am writing songs I always rely on a certain feeling. I simply have to, as there are way too many distracting possibilities of letting music sound in a specific way. Think the instrument, playing style, one’s current condition, pedals and amps at hand, little accidents; let alone recording equipment, the room, the person behind the desk – I think you get the point. It just turned out the way it is now, because everybody had that mentioned certain feeling about it. And all that starts with the riff! If you truly feel the riff, you understand everything about it. No more alchemic formulas or mumbling “holy” words of evocation needed for actually summoning the true primal evil that is inhabiting everything around us.

Nevertheless, together we absolutely managed to put it on point. I am very glad how those songs turned out and the result is something I – and all of us – can be proud of.

Let’s head back to the beginnings of the project. Although you gave official life to Hagzissa in 2016 I read that the idea of the project predates even your (and drummer L. Pachinger‘s) other project Kringa, which was formed in 2009. This sounds fascinating, so I’d like to delve a little deeper into the story here: when was the idea for the project actually formulated, and why? Then, after all that time passing, what urges or circumstances finally led to the inception of Hagzissa?

– Well, for that question, please let me travel back in time for a bit: In my teenage years, when I slowly but steadily got obsessed with more and more dark and extreme (black) metal, I also started reading lots of obscure stuff. I have always been into mythology and folklore as to me it always seemed to deliver explanations for the irrational. People used to call it “the unspeakable”, a term that is describing respect, confusion, fear and even curiosity. If I now and then compared it with black metal, it simply meant the same to me – a resonance of the beyond. Wherever, whenever, however that may be! Don’t get me wrong here: I am all but a denier of science and research, but speaking of music, the “unspeakable” is forever to be intertwined with it and that was something I forever found a home in.

My skills though were much too weak to properly express my ideas and feelings in that kind of approach. So, luckily enough, I got to know Vritra and then-drummer Moloch in 2010, who have been jamming for some months and were happy to find a bass player/vocalist. I soon understood that Kringa, although having a similar background of dark mysticism, was bearing a quite different longing, another one and a very powerful one. I was hungry, so together we went on exploring that different kind of the “unspeakable” very thoroughly. When in 2014, L. joined through an unexpected twist of actions by our then second drummer, we sharpened our visions more and more. I never stopped to write songs in that old obsessive way I had before Kringa and eventually took action, when I crossed paths with some other individuals who shared the same madness with me and backbone L. In 2016, I felt ready for really stepping out of the shadows; L. and C. gladfully joined me and here we are.

Hagzissa is clearly steeped in themes of folklore and witchcraft – without reading the lyrics the album still appears to reference everything from The Wild Hunt to casting a circle. Given that They Ride Along is quite a personal album, how do these themes manifest in your daily lives?

– I might have covered that specific question accidentally through most of my other given answers – sorry for waffling.

The only thing I might want to add here is that one’s personal surroundings surely have a distinctive impact on the music you make. We are coming from a very old countryside – also C., who is originally from Northern Italy, the “Land of Mystery” – and if you walk around with open eyes, it is impossible to miss the history around you and take it with you. Between Hallstatt, Bohemia and the Salzburg or Bavarian bishops’ lands a lot of things did happen. Not always necessarily, but mostly of a heinous sort.

The first three tracks each have a sub-title: ‘Die Pforte (A Speech Above the Moor)’, ‘Irrsinnsdimensionen (A Bath Amidst the Wells)’ and ‘Moonshine Glance (An Iron Seed in Sour Soil)’. I know the album as a whole flows quite well, but are these tracks in particular intended to be heard as a kind of three-part interconnected suite? If so, what is it that connects them all?

– Not at all. Each of those 8 songs is intended to speak for itself. Yet, when we started working on them with the intent of creating a full-length, the track listing simply fell into place perfectly. There was no much thinking needed. The story told itself. Back in the working title period, we had a totally different listing.

At the end of ‘Moonshine Glance (An Iron Seed in Sour Soil)’, there’s an intriguing piece of what I assume to be film dialogue. A disembodied voice intones: “In the far dark corners of every human’s soul there lurks a black crouching spectre. The ghost like shadow that waits. A shrouded thing that pulsates with malignant evil. The name of that ghost, is…” and I can’t catch the last word! So, first – what is the name of the ghost, and what is the significance of this dialogue to the album?

– In all honesty, I also never caught that name correctly. And I never really wanted to know! But it fascinated me. I decided to put that speech between those two songs which are actual curses for the very sake of that itself. To give just a brief insight here: the first one is about wishing somebody spoilage, sicknesses and slowly piercing him to death in a drunken frenzy. The other one is no better intentions, but more focussed and actually based on something that could be described as Middle European Voodoo.

But, back to your question: What we have here is a part of the introduction to a recorded reading by erudite Christopher Lee. The way those words are depicting the ever-lingering subconscious horrors that might drive anyone into sickening madness just resonated with me, if you are bearing those two curses in mind.

Following on from that, are film and/or books something that you would consider to have had a notable influence on the art of Hagzissa at any point? Are there any in particular that you can suggest for people who want to dive further into the vibe and inspirations of They Ride Along?

– Yes, it had. I’d consider literature more important at the first place as it somehow spoke to me on a different level. Biggest early influence is the first part of Faust, the monument by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. There is also a great filming of a theatre play from 1960, produced by Gustaf Gründgens. Other examples: The Sandmann (1816) by E.T.A. Hoffmann, “Zauberstücke” like Der Alpenkönig und der Menschenfeind (The Alpine King and the Misanthrope, 1828) or ugly naturalist stuff like Before Dawn (1889) by Gerhart Hauptmann always kinda fascinated me and speak of another world. Moreover, I would name lesser known author Gustav Meyrink and his Walpurgisnacht (1917) and The Golem (1915).

I then developed a cineastic fascination pretty much later on. Movies like Nosferatu (1922), The Seventh Seal (1958), The Wicker Man (1973), Suspiria (1977) or even November (2017), an Estonian production might also give you an obscure insight. But the main inspiration always remains the true folklore. The subconscious, the fright of peasants and the works of the devil.

Now, the cover art is quite unique. Eschewing traditional black metal tropes, it is instead a hand-drawn image of a bowed warlock or druid, blended with a giant demonic visage. What’s the story behind this? Who is the artist, and what does it signify?

– I agree. We could not be happier about how the cover turned out to be and can not thank Giuseppe enough. He is an acquaintance of C., based in Milan and he knows a thing or two as well in the fields of ancient sorcery. I didn’t send any sketches to him or something like that, I really wanted to let him work totally free, based on my (pretty detailed) explanations on the album and each song. As you can see, he also caught himself a spirit of the night and took some rides with him, returning exhausted yet liberated! So, not only the cover art, but the inner sleeve is laden with free hand nocturnal mysteries that turned out really, really well.

The album will be available on LP and CD on the 23rd August from Iron Bonehead Productions, who also released your demo. How did you first come into contact with this esteemed label, and how has it been working with them so far?

– Well, we never really intended to sell our first promo tape on a broader level as it simply is not perfectly executed at all. Still, it already reflects exactly what we were trying to create and as we wanted to play some violet theatre live, I just uploaded a track for promotion on youtube. Not shortly after, P.K. was stumbling upon it and was asking if we had some more. I said “not enough”, but he was really into it and offered to repress them as an official Demo, heralding an album that was later to come. And here we are! When he heard the first studio recording for the album, he was confused and expecting something different. Nevertheless, he has always given full trust and support. And I gotta say, we are very happy and honoured to work with Iron Bonehead. Onwards!

I‘ve seen some footage of your robed live performances, Hagzissa in the flesh seems to be a powerful proposition and you have been playing quite a few shows. However there is one in particular I’d like to ask about: I believe you’re part of the astonishing lineup of Invicta Reqviem Mass V this year, which is one of the events I simply must attend somehow before I die. What will be in store for attendees from your set, and are there any acts on the lineup that you’re particularly keen to share the stage with? Or – are there any other shows coming up that you’re excited about?

– We haven’t been directly contacted to play, but as it seems to be in a tradition with this festival, a whole group of connected bands has been addressed, so L. and me will also be playing with Kringa and – as a live premiere – Alruna. I think the concept is quite interesting as it brings the possibility of adding an own touch anew each year while still keeping a constant. We are very curious about this event and also a bit surprised about this invitation for Hagzissa. I mean, Invicta Reqviem Mass seems to have been a gathering at deeper level of underground bands, regardless of their intensity or sheer darkness. But of course, we are very much looking forward to it and are thankful for the opportunity to play in Portugal. Also, we are keen to see Hail Conjurer – one of the more interesting among new black metal bands!

And finally – what lies in the misted future for Hagzissa? Have you begun conjuring any new material?

– There is actually some new material and also a split with a close band on the horizon, but I don’t want to go too much into detail here now.

For the moment, we are gladful about the first reviews and feedbacks for They Ride Along but also remain very curious about the further reception of this twisted piece. We shall see.

Furthermore, we have some stages to share with great bands in the nearer future: “Celebrare Noctem Fest” with Blasphemy, Mortuary Drape and Ritual Death among others shall be glorious! And being part of “A Sinister Purpose Fest” in Leipzig is no less of an honour. Some other gigs will be announced in the future.

Sincerest thanks for your time, it’s been a pleasure. Are there any final words or wisdoms you would like to leave us with?

– The pleasure is ours. Final words? Don’t let yourself get tricked by summer’s heat. Any season has its demons. And the acedia that is brought to you by the noonday devil is of a specially awful kind. Thank you.

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They Ride Along releases August 23rd on LP and CD formats via Iron Bonehead Productions.

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TRACK PREMIERE: Gronthor’s ‘Malleus Deus’, from Akashic Envoy Records’ Halfiversary Compilation ‘Transmissions From The Ætheric Plane’

The still-relatively-youthful US tape label Akashic Envoy Records definitely came into existence with a resounding bang. Making an immediate mark releasing such names as Blyh, Acheulean Forests, Elderfrost, Wyvernsnout, Crown Of Asteria and countless others in a matter of months, they’ve established themselves as a force to be reckoned with within the subterranean DS and BM landscape… and what’s more they’re also firm BMD favourites, which is why we’re psyched as hell to help them announce the arrival of something rather special. I’ll let the label explain:

Akashic Envoy Records officially entered the world along with the new moon on February 4, 2019.

Yeah…it’s been a hell of a first six months.

In the US, it’s customary to celebrate a child’s first half-birthday. At Akashic Envoy, we’ve decided that we should celebrate our first halfiversary, and what better way to do that than with a label compilation?

A simple enough idea, but AER doesn’t really do ‘simple.’ And a halfiversary compilation certainly isn’t the time to start doing things halfway (sorry – couldn’t resist). So what started as a conversation with the musicians behind Smudgeon and Aeons + Monuments about doing a label comp very quickly morphed into “Transmissions from the Ætheric Plane”, a 3xCS box set featuring over three hours of exclusive and rare tracks from 35 of the artists on AER’s roster.”

This glorious creation will have five special cover variations to choose from and be split into a glistening triptych of darkened delights – a trio of different coloured (and sparkly, for added kvlt as fuck points) cassette tapes, each showcasing the three different personalities of the label. Cassette I: Black Metal. Cassette II: Ambient/Noise. Cassette III: Dungeon Synth… which is the one we are beyond proud to present you with a track from today in the exclusive stream of ‘Malleus Deus’, by British artist Gronthor.

Inspired by Lovecraft, old JRPG video game music and dissociative hallucinatory visions she experienced a few years ago during a psychedelic trip, the enigmatic and often corpse-painted Gronthor makes medieval dungeon synth music for darker souls. She’s also relatively new to the scene but you wouldn’t know it; her last few releases (demos Ruinous and Oubliette plus the eponymous debut album Gronthor) have been ridiculously accomplished, stirring hymnals to both times of old and the most disturbing parts of our psyches.

She’s a gem in the treasure grove that is the lineup for this compilation (other artists taking part include Suicide Forest, Whore of Babylon, Aludra, Poppet, Erythrite Throne, Mors Certa, Apothecary, Stroszek, Catafalque and many more) so click the link just below, immerse thyself in Gronthor‘s ancient emanations from austere tombs and go snap yourself up one of these incredibly curated triple cassette artifacts while you can – pre-orders have just gone live as we speak, and at only 25 copies total they won’t last long at all. Hails.

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Pre-order Transmissions From The Ætheric Flame on triple cassette from the Akashic Envoy Records webstore here.

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Support Gronthor:

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ALBUM PREMIERE and Interview: Malacath’s ‘The Elders Below’

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A soul chained down

And hope I do forgo

For all my eternity owed

To the elders below

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Hails and salutations, children of the night… or anyone sitting staring at their phone or laptop. You know those unassuming albums that at first might not really stand out to you for any particular reason but once you listen to them they work their subtle magic on your brain, assimilating themselves with your essence and before you know it becoming a fast favourite? Well, the exclusive full stream we are proud to present for you today is most definitely one of those (although not entirely – it is flying under the banner of Fólkvangr Records, so you already know it’s gonna be some good shit).

This stealth bomber par excellence is The Elders Below by US solo project Malacath. Borne of two years of “contemplation and exploration”, main man Lykos (with assistance from the mysterious Hiraeth on the sticks) crafts ’90s influenced black metal of such unexpected immersive pull and emotional weight that you’ll return to it again and again… like I have, this album has been one of my go-to’s since I first heard it. To give an idea of exactly how much I like it, when the latest Ashbringer dropped I only lasted two songs – then put this back on instead.

The qualities that this album has can be pretty much summed up by the title track, ‘The Elders Below’. It’s a song that takes all the best parts of early Scandinavian black, blends it with a more modern style of atmosphericism and proceeds to skillfully compile it all into an incredibly dynamic and well structured journey that emanates deep integrity rather than hollow emulation. At first you might think you’re going to be listening go some solid enough black metal, but by the end of it you’re completely taken; claws to the sky and totally in thrall. And that’s what The Elders Below is – a remarkable journey from beginning to end that will take you by surprise and not let you go.

That title track is by far not the only gem to be found in the five compositions on offer and we are privileged to not only be presenting all of them to you in the exclusive full stream of The Elders Below today, but we also have Lykos himself here to tell us all about it as well. So listen deeply, read on for our chat with him and hit up Fólkvangr for CD and cassette pre-orders ahead of its July 26th release (fifty copies each).

I’ll leave you with some great advice from the label: “if you’re a fan of Drudkh, Falls Of Rauros or atmospheric black metal in general, you need this album”.

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Hello Lykos! It’s a pleasure to be speaking with you… and another notable pleasure is that we’re premiering the full stream of the third Malacath full-length The Elders Below here today! So tell us – what inspired the creation of this latest album, and do you feel you have achieved everything you wanted to with it?

– Hello! Thank you for taking the time to do this. I can’t say there is really any one particular thing that inspired the creation of this album, it was more so a result of my constant desire and need to create. My original intention was only to write an EP with a couple of tracks and over time it developed into the full-length album it is today. I would say I have done everything and more that I wanted to do with it, it grew to become so much bigger than what I had originally envisioned.

Now, the album title and cover art seem vaguely Lovecraftian, but Malacath seems to be a reference to The Elder Scrolls. Having not had the opportunity to read the lyrics as of yet, I’m curious – do either of these themes feature heavily within the songs? If not, what subjects do you touch upon?

– The themes of the album are not strictly Lovecraft derived, but they are certainly inspired by his work and the worlds he created. The idea of elder gods in a world beneath is the central theme throughout the album, and the events that transpire as they reclaim the world above. Much like my previous work with Malacath the lyrics are meant to tell a story that is open to interpretation. Much of it is allegorical to the feelings I have surrounding life in general, and much of it is also imagery to match the music that is playing. I don’t like to get too specific with my intentions with things; the idea is that, should someone decide to read the lyrics, they can make of them what they will. An open ended story was the idea, set against a world that reflects the more negative aspects of my perception of life.

The Elders Below continues the sonic evolution of the project, but in a way that I feel is more of a refinement from 2017’s great No Sense in Self Worth (The Dissolution of Wish and Dream). Would this be how you view the progression yourself? Did you approach the writing or recording process differently for this release?

– I would definitely agree that much of The Elders Below is a refinement of No Sense in Self Worth. Quite literally in some instances, as some of the riffs present here were in their earliest stages during the writing of that album but were not developed further as I did not feel they fit with the vision I had for it. The writing and recording of The Elders Below was very much a departure from the process I have done for every other previous release. Much of it was actually structured with two of the members of the live band for Malacath. With every previous release I have written the music and structured it entirely by myself, so that was certainly a change and, I think, added an interesting and different dynamic to the songs. For the recording end of things, the biggest change is the kind of equipment I used. This is the first album I have recorded with a full guitar rig instead of a small combo amp, because I believed that the album would benefit from a fuller guitar sound and a slightly less trebely and abrasive production. Though I am happy that it is still very much a raw sounding album, I think the overall guitar and bass tones being slightly clearer lends itself well to the music being played.

Speaking of No Sense… you had quite a few guest spots on that album – are there any this time around? If so, what did they bring to the table?

– There were not really any guest spots this time around. I had a specific idea for the lyrics that I wanted to attempt to write myself. That being said, the lyrics for ‘Into the Nebulous Black’ are very much inspired by the writing style of Satanist from Bog of the Infidel, who wrote the lyrics for No Sense in Self Worth’s title track.

One thing I really enjoy about The Elders Below (and Malacath in general, really) is the variety you’ve packed into it; no two tracks are exactly the same. But the whole thing also remains remarkably coherent, which ensures the album feels like a journey – you start in the pensive ‘For My Eternity Owed’ and the flow of the album takes you through a range of emotions and places until you finally end up at the crushing agony of ‘Into the Nebulous Black’. Is this narrative-style approach something you intentionally set out to do when you create an album?

– Yes, that is my exact intention. I try to present an album essentially as a single listening experience broken up into movements. That is probably the best way I can describe the idea. A journey from beginning to end telling a story not just lyrically, but musically as well. Albums structured like this have always been my favorite, so that is what I try to do as well. To be honest I am not the best with writing lyrics, so I try and structure the music itself to tell the story for me.

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Although everything on the album is great, if I had to pick a favourite it would by far be the titular ‘The Elders Below’. The entire composition hits me just right but I am particularly taken with certain riffs and progressions – I mentioned to a friend that it even sounded like parts of Dimmu Borgir‘s classic Stormblåst updated with a more modern atmospheric feel. That’s just a small part of the influences to be found, though – you clearly appreciate the old-school roots of the genre. Is there anything on the album that you would consider a direct homage? Or, do you have any favourite moments yourself?

– There are quite a few parts I consider a direct homage to different bands that have inspired me, especially in the song ‘Reclamation’. I started Malacath out of an undying love of the earliest black metal bands that I would listen to, be that Darkthrone, Bathory or Sargeist etc; and from there developed my own writing style and direction. The old guard, however will always be my biggest musical inspirations, and I like to give nods to them from time to time. As for my favorite part of the album, I think the section following the clean part of the title track is probably my favorite.

Now, this might sound a little strange, so bear with me. When I first heard opener ‘For My Eternity Owed’ with its ambient shore-borne mists and contemplative melancholia, I was immediately transported to a scene in my mind and thought to myself “this feels like I’m standing on a cliff overlooking the sea in New Hampshire”. Which in itself is odd, because I’ve never been – I think I was connecting it somehow to a Beorn’s Hall release. Lo and behold, I’m later looking up information about you for this interview and discover that you are actually from West Swanzey in New Hampshire! Admittedly what I experienced was most likely a coincidence based on something I subconsciously saw, but you never know. Anyway, it got me thinking – was there some type of local influence intended in this opening piece? Did you collect the field recordings yourself?

– There is very much a local influence to be found. I’ve lived in New Hampshire for my entire life, and it is really the only place I think I could ever call home. The sounds reminded me of the winds at a shore line which is why I chose them. I think it really helps set the stage for the journey that is to come. I did not collect the field recording myself, unfortunately, though I wish I had. I can only imagine what it must have been like to actually be there when they were recorded.

Following on from that – I’ve since learned that Rognvaldr from Beorn’s Hall actually mastered the album at The Hall Studios! In my opinion it sounds utterly superb. Are you happy with the overall sound? Would you say you’re close with the Beorn’s Hall guys and the rest of the collected NHBM artists?

– I am definitely very happy with the overall sound of the album. This is the first time I have ever had anyone else involved with the production side of a Malacath album and I think Rognvaldr did a fantastic job. I consider the Beorn’s Hall guys to be good friends, as well as many of the others involved with Black Metal in New Hampshire. It is not a large group of people, but it is a group that I believe has a true appreciation for the genre.

I previously mentioned the Lovecraftian feel of the cover art; it’s quite compelling. Who is the artist? Did you work closely with them during the creation of the piece?

– The artwork was supplied by Moonroot Art. The cover was actually something that he had already made which we then licensed, but it captured the feeling of the album incredibly well, almost as if we had commissioned it from him personally. Definitely very happy to have been able to use the piece.

The album is being released on July 26th through one of BMD‘s favourite labels, Fólkvangr Records – and I believe there will be not only the usual tapes, but digipacks too. How did this partnership eventuate, and are you pleased with the results thus far?

– I was put into contact with Fólkvangr through the guys in Beorn’s Hall actually. We had been in talks about doing a release of some kind for a while and in that time I finished recording the album so we moved forward from there. I have been extremely pleased with the results so far. Mark is a great guy and his genuine interest in the bands he signs is a refreshing sight to see. I am usually very hesitant to involve any outside source into Malacath, but I am extremely happy to have put that aside and work with Fólkvangr.

And finally… what’s lies in the future for Malacath? Are there any shows coming up, or any more material in the works?

– There is always something stirring in my mind. I have big plans for the next release, but I intend on taking my time getting there. We’ll play a few shows here and there, but not too many. I play in several other bands and am actually getting ready to record a full length for my death metal band Angel Morgue, so Malacath will be resting for some time until I can dive into my next venture with my full attention.

Once again, sincerest thanks for your time! Really enjoying the album, it’s been one of my go-to’s since I’ve heard it. Any final words or wisdoms you would like to leave us with?

– Thank you for supporting Malacath and for supporting underground black metal.

“The elder among the men looked deep into the fire and spoke loud with pride

Tomorrow is a fine day to die”

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The Elders Below will be available on cassette and digipack CD July 26th via Fólkvangr Records. Pre-orders available now.

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Purchase The Elders Below on CD or cassette from the Fólkvangr Records webstore here, or digitally from the Malacath Bandcamp here.

Support Malacath:

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ALBUM PREMIERE & INTERVIEW: Valaraukar’s ‘Demonian Abyssal Visions’

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The world’s foundations

Alight in hellish flame

Red eyes behold the heart of ruin

Embracing the glory of blasphemy

Rejoice in the beauty of pure destruction

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I love watching a project develop. Back in Bandcamp Misanthropy: Volume 17 we took a brief look at devastating Scottish dyad Valaraukar and their debut demo EP Harnessing of Hostile Forces, which I was extremely amped about and looking forward to their upcoming full-length debut that was in the works at the time. Well, that same full-length is finally being unleashed upon us via the considerable might of Iron Bonehead Productions – and we are honoured to be streaming it in full for you here today.

Delivering on the promises made by the demo with ease, Demonian Abyssal Visions takes all the aggression and songwriting nous displayed there and rips it wide open to flow untempered and screaming into our realm. Their knack for writing a commanding tune is propelled to even greater heights by three driving forces: the immense riffage, a deliciously antagonistic guitar tone and the punishing percussive assault. Taking ancient Scandinavian blueprints and infusing them with both scathing modern ire and a disregard for genre norms, Vagath (guitars, vox) is channelling power beyond belief and creates riffs all through this thing that will make you want to destroy everything in close range, while skinsman Sovereign is utterly omnipotent on the drums and always does precisely what the song needs, as if propelled by mystic intuition.

Weaving a web of visceral sonic impact is all well and good, certainly, but it’s also perilously clear that Vagath brings the pain both thematically and in vocal delivery too – his compelling, archetypal bark seems drawn from other worlds as he roars profound doctrines and metaphysic convictions. I’ll let him explain this in greater detail however, as today we also have both Vagath and Sovereign here to tell us all about it and lift the veil ever so slightly on the creation of these visions made form. So read on below, listen deeply and bear witness as Valaraukar become absolute world eaters… for, considering the arcane sigils and violent esotericism present in this remarkable debut incantation, the void that they summon between them shall undoubtedly devour us all.

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Hails Valaraukar! Great to speak with you. I’ve been awaiting your debut album since your demo last year, and now it has finally arrived – the intensely diabolical Demonian Abyssal Visions, which we are streaming in full here today. So first up, how do you both feel about the album? What was your goal, did you achieved what you wanted to with it?

Vagath: Each time I listen back to the album I’m consistently satisfied with the sound, it has everything I would have hoped to capture with our live sound and playing style in mind. The goal was to keep it raw, energised, tight and aggressive and it ticks all the boxes for me. The guitar sound is suitably full and yet has that defined raw edge on it.

Sovereign: It’s difficult to look at an album you created yourself in a way comparable to other music – the process of recording and writing absorbs you – puts you through the wringer, even. When it’s done, it’s hard to know what to think – the relationship to one’s own material is unique. To listen to the finished product, to know that you brought it into existence – there’s pride in that, especially knowing I gave my all.

The two tracks from the demo both reappear here, ‘Harnessing of Hostile Forces’ renamed from ‘Hostile Forces’ to match the actual title of the demo. Did you change anything else about those two tracks for the album versions?

V: Ah, so using the shortened name on the demo then extending it for the album, that was a conscious decision taken back in early 2018 when working on the demo. The album version is a bit faster, it felt like it had more attack when we sped it up. Some drum parts were slightly different on the album version as well.

It’s a high energy yet pulverizing, heavily riff-driven piece of work. I particularly enjoy the moments when it breaks out in more d-beat, rocking or even almost thrashy parts – I daresay you had more than simply blasting, traditional black metal in mind during the compositional process. What were some of the influences or personal musical touchpoints you drew from whilst creating the album?

V: There’s not a style in mind as we’re writing, and the range of influences is pretty vast. The out and out blasting style is a factor of course, but so are others like dissonant, cavernous, styles or slow parts with picking riffs in there. The material is constantly evolving. It’s never going to lose the edge because that edge is utterly vital.

S: Rhythmically, black metal has a lot of options on the table; often more than it ultimately decides to exploit. I actually have a real love for some of that quintessential blastbeat-centric black metal… but there can be so much bombast and manic-energy in something like a d-beat that I’d have been remiss not to find a place for some in the material.

The press release states that Vagath is driven by “inner demons and primal aspects of the subconscious” to create his art, which sounds fascinating. Could you tell us a little about that, and the creative process involved in these songs? Are those aforementioned themes also touched upon lyrically throughout the record?

V: The creative process is almost entirely introspective, it’s coming from within me rather than from anything external. To write anything truly evocative it’s necessary to look pretty deep and to get in touch with something, then give form to these abstract visions by weaving in some poetry and translating into vivid scenarios.

Whatever inner power I’m connecting with is not clearly defined, “primal” is probably a fair description. I could expand more on this but for now I’ll just say this: it’s unquestionably an empowering process, and that empowerment is a strong theme in itself. I think this is evident in the music.

It is most definitely present in the lyrics, that’s what ‘Harnessing of Hostile Forces’ is referring to. It is a factor lyrically in other songs but that one refers to it directly.

Valaraukar was born from the ashes of your previous band NNGNN (or Nolti Nan Gana Nan Nolta). Why did you decide to end that project and begin afresh with Valaraukar, as opposed to simply continuing under the same name?

V: It was time to take a more uncompromising and honed approach. In a sense it was a new direction, but it was also a natural evolution from where we were with that previous entity. To me it’s now all about Valaraukar, not particularly keen to look back at what came before.

Speaking of names – the name Valaraukar is another word for Balrogs in Tolkien’s work. At a cursory glance I couldn’t spot anything, but does the Tolkien theme flow through into any other aspect of the project? What drew you towards selecting this moniker to represent your sound?

V: I do have a connection with Tolkien’s Legendarium, I actually wanted to use this name back in 2008 or so with another project but never got the opportunity. The lyrics for ‘Servants of the Nameless’ refer to the Valaraukar, apart from that there is no other direct use of Tolkien themes. Several themes appear on the album.

The cover art is quite striking, showing what appears to be a void opening up between two stone columns. Who is the artist, and what does the cover signify in relation to the album?

V: The cover art (and our logo) were done by the formidable View From the Coffin. The pillars represent myself and Sovereign, the void in the centre is the screaming abyss that these raw visions are drawn from. Demonian, or demonic, because the whole process is dark and driven by inner demons. Abyssal, because there is an indefinable depth and majestic power at work alongside the direct aggression, this more prominent at some times than others.

In great news, Demonian Abyssal Visions has been picked up for release on LP and CD by the mighty Iron Bonehead Productions. You must be pleased with that, how did this partnership come to pass?

V: I contacted IBP linking them to our demo and expressing our desire to work with them, they are formidable and we have a lot of respect for them. They must have heard something in the demo they liked. IBP are always one to watch, they release a lot of good material, I’m sitting digesting some as I write this.

In my opinion, the music of Valaraukar is a strong exponent of one key ingredient that I believe should be present in the best of black metal – power. You can feel it seething like electricity in your compositions, empowering and charging you with dark vitality. Do you feel this is an important part of what black metal is to you?

V: Absolutely. Feeling empowered by the music is essential, without that it’s nothing. I think it starts the other way round, pouring that power into the material with vision, inspiration, emotion or whatever else makes it what it is. For someone who is not empowered by playing black metal, the end result is not going to be powerful in itself.

For me Demonian Abyssal Visions has captured that power you refer to, more so than anything I’ve been a part of in the past.

And finally – What’s next for the two of you? Are you working on any new material, or perhaps considering taking Valaraukar to the live setting and playing some shows?

V: Live shows are on the horizon, when the right opportunities come up. So far we have one appearance booked, playing with Desaster / Root / Archgoat / Mork in London, on the 1st of December. A monstrous lineup!

There is new material in the works but we haven’t written much at this stage. The next album will be quite different, that much is clear.

Sincerest thanks for your time, Valaraukar. Any parting words for us all?

V: Mastery Of Diabolical Strength!

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Demonian Abyssal Visions unleashes June 21st under the banner of Iron Bonehead Productions.

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Support Valaraukar:

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TRACK PREMIERE – ‘Spare No Wrath’, by Trench Warfare

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HATE

VIOLENCE

WAR

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Some albums, they might want to sweep you up and take you on a journey. Some albums might want to make you feel, to reminisce. Others might aim to summon forces from unseen worlds, whilst others still might just want you to nod your head. And then there’s albums that simply want to obliterate your brain with repeated point-blank bursts from an MP5 whilst the other hand spools your intestines out onto the floor via vicious thrusts with a combat knife. Care to guess which category Hatred Prayer, the debut full-length from US carnage merchants Trench Warfare falls under?

When I first heard this record I sat up and shat. No word of a lie, the sheer vitriol the trio of Tony Goyang Jr. (Guitars, Bass), Lee Fisher (Skins) and Jay Gorania (Throat) pack into their assault should almost be listed as a war crime. On tracks like the already-premiered titular Hatred Prayer or first taster Axioms their extreme, grinding form of bestial black/death brutality reaches heights of intensity that push the very limits of what the human body can endure, and today we bring to you another tantalising glimpse of their arsenal: an exclusive stream of second album salvo, ‘Spare No Wrath’.

One of the shortest tracks on the album, it only needs a mere two minutes and nineteen seconds to do its dirty work as it holds you down and mercilessly beats the shit out of you. Those will be the longest minutes of your life… but you’ll simultaneously, and with a hefty dose of healthy masochism, wish they’d never end. The percussive blasts and d-beat artillery fire (tastefully recorded, no fake shit here) will splinter every bone in your body while the guitars gnaw at your face in pure unbridled savagery, ferocious riffs lacerating the cacophony with a jagged edge. Utterly ravenous, filth-encrusted vocals proselytize certain death as you can almost physically feel the hatred and disgust emanating from the collected relentless punishment of each element combined; and then before you know it, it’s all over… until the next track slams in with equal if not greater force. But that’s another story and one that you’ll have to wait three more weeks to hear, when the full thing is finally unleashed through the great Transcending Obscurity Records.

Available for pre-order now on CD digipack and limited autographed box set, and for the love of genocide… don’t miss this. Violence incarnate.

Hatred Prayer releases August 9th via Transcending Obscurity Records.

Pre-order Hatred Prayer on CD, digital or autographed box set from Transcending Obscurity Records here.

Support Trench Warfare:

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FULL EP PREMIERE: ‘Primordial Hollow’ by Primordial Hollow

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It haunts my mind

Voices of the night

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Here’s an undeniable fact: USBM has been fucking killing it lately.

“Lately,” you might say; “it’s been killing it for decades!”, in which case you would be correct – but I’m specifically talking about these last couple of years because a certain group of US musicians seem to be hell-bent on pushing the limits of the human creative capacity, releasing albums of extreme quality at an astonishing rate of fire. If you follow black metal at all you’ll have undoubtedly heard the names Chaos Moon, Entheogen and Gardsghastr before… and I mention them now for two specific reasons:

  1. I’ve heard rumour that brand new project Primordial Hollow, of which we are immeasurably pleased to premiere the full stream of their self-titled debut demo EP here today, has connections to all three of those projects
  2. If you’re a fan of those three, you’re definitely going to love this.

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But those rumoured connections are ultimately inconsequential and definitely unimportant – the music is what matters and whoever the mysterious trio of Decimator, Void and Phantom may actually be, what they have summoned is immense. Effortlessly communicating through twisted clairvoyance the indescribable magic of black metal’s prime era, these gentlemen have crafted three tracks from the night itself; moulding and shaping it to their will. Opener ‘Come Forth and Perish’ sets the tone with a bombastic, dread-inducing introduction of ominous chords, choral synth tones and the tolling bells of purgatory… then erupts into a classic roar that, as their label Fólkvangr Records puts it, “sounds like it stepped out of a time machine straight from 1996”.

Killer, clattering drums propel buzzsaw guitars along with driving diabolic power as swathes of haunting keys settle like monstrous shimmering cobwebs over it all. Reverberating vocals rasp and tear through the mix… it’s a thoroughly enjoyable sound that immaculately marries atmospheres of sinister malevolence with explosive raw physicality to enrapturing effect, and as you move through this grand triptych of devastating dirges the interplay between synth and riff alone will have you raising clawed hands to the moonlit sky. The songs move through familiar tempos and changes, devilish grooves give way to monstrous blasts and an evil melodiousness that tickles your blasphemy glands in all the right spots – ‘Winds of Ire’ is satanized sturm-und-drang, while the punchy ‘Chaos and Serenity’ hurls itself at your face with nefarious energy and scrabbles in through your ear holes, burrowing down deep into your brain to lay eggs.

For a debut demo it is ridiculously good. At only 17 minutes long I’m not going to give it a detailed play-by-play, you really need to discover its mysteries for yourself and it deserves your full attention as it shows more in three songs than many albums do in a full eight or nine. A wonderful howling hymn to the children of the night, releasing June 21st on limited cassette through who? Why, the mighty Fólkvangr, of course. Only 50 copies… don’t sleep.

Oh, and my educated guess as a writer and fan as to who these guys are? From the faces in that photo up top and the fact that a certain Alex Poole has taken care of the mastering, I’d say at least one Blackburn brother might have something to do with this infernal creation. Don’t quote me on that, though – and probably don’t even think too much about it. Just listen to the music and lose yourself in the glorious crepuscular madness of Primordial Hollow.

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Pre-order Primordial Hollow digitally from the artist’s Bandcamp here, or on limited cassette from Fólkvangr Records here.

Support Primordial Hollow:

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TRACK PREMIERE & INTERVIEW: ‘Bandages Over Boards’ by The Projectionist

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How often are you fully invested in art whilst experiencing it? I don’t mean merely liking something – I mean having every iota of your attention immovably locked on to whatever it is you’re seeing or listening to, gripped by it. It’s something that’s unfortunately not common enough, as most art seems satisfied to be mere background noise or passive entertainment… which is where Canada’s The Projectionist then comes in, the very antithesis of those simplistic ambitions.

Led by the inimitable Lörd Matzigkeitus (The Black Sorcery, Thy Sepuchral Moon, many more), he and his extended horde of fellow cacodemons Parageist, Destroyer, Malphas and Orpheus aren’t content with the mundane, and instead have crafted a viciously engaging and conceptually dazzling black metal opera that veritably demands your attention. Entitled Visits From The NightHag and split over two parts – the first dropped on All Hallows Eve last year whilst Part 2 is currently bearing down on us at pace ahead of its June 28th unveiling through Appalachian Noise Records – it tells the tale of George, the Projectionist of Todendorf, and his tumultuous encounters with the titular NightHag. It’s a challenging, intensely personal and utterly entrancing piece of art, and we here at BMD are proud to present you an exclusive listen to the second last act of the forthcoming Part 2 – the ripping ‘Bandages Over Boards’.

A dynamic journey of a track, it has some undeniably killer riffs holding it together as it careens along wildly, through varying emotions that manifest at the end of this sprawling tale – but I don’t want to say too much about it, as in another incredible stroke of good fortune we have the Lörd himself here to unravel some of the mysteries behind this macabre and affecting work and he’s one of the most eloquent and forthcoming guests to ever grace these stained pages. So settle in, listen above, read on below… and give yourself over to the compelling tale of The Projectionist.

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Greetings, Lörd Matzigkeitus! Sincerest thanks for speaking with us today, I hope you are well.

LM: Good evening. My pleasure…

Part Two of your Visits from the NightHag series is being unleashed very soon, less than a year after the captivating Part One. So, let’s get it straight from the creator: what’s happening in the NightHag universe? Where do we pick up with our protagonist George this time?

LM: After suffering a wildly invasive surgery to save his life from unexplainable necrosis of the legs, George comes back to consciousness half a man, and begins to spin a phantasmagorical tale to the attending Doctor Bendix. The baffled physician tries to piece together the events leading up to George’s current state. What he hears, will shatter his psyche and move the poor Doctor on a most foul trajectory… (but that is another story altogether)

For those unfamiliar with your inspirations and personal connection to the story being told – could you tell us a little about the genesis of the NightHag series, and why it exists?

LM: The NightHag story began as a simple conversation about sleep paralysis that Demoniarch and I had at his home over drinks. He mentioned at the time that every civilization on the planet had a version of it… a witch that came at night, sat upon your torso and held you down with impossible fright. Europeans called it the hag, the old hag or the Night Hag.

It stuck in my craw. I couldn’t shake the idea of it for weeks. My grandfather, George Howard, was in life a projectionist in Todendorf, Germany (yes, the band is named for him) and died in my arms due to complications from having his legs removed. It was the single most devastating moment in my life.

I began to come up with an odd idea of marrying the two notions; what if the NightHag came to him and was the reason his legs had to be amputated? (They were gangrenous due to diabetes in truth)

Fleshing this out caused me great pain, I openly wept during the writing of certain passages…but all great art is meant to be felt in full.

Why does it exist? I’ve pondered on that recently… have you ever loved a dead person so much that you’d create an entire world for them to live in, just to spend time with them?

That’s why.

You’ve been doing something quite intriguing in the lead up to the album’s release, in the form of weekly video shorts wherein you reveal a snippet of a particular track and yourself reveal more of the tale in devilish oration. What was the thought behind these short episodic teasers?

LM: I want to perpetrate the notion that the band are acting as projectionists; that we are unfolding a film for a darkened, captive audience. I mean for this band to supersede what Black Metal is, and take it where it hasn’t or shouldn’t go.

The films are like the movie-serials from long ago in cinematic history. They are there to stir curiosity and drive home the point that these albums, though uncompromisingly Black Metal, are in fact, operas and you are being told a story… something that seemed lost on many when Visits from the NightHag: Part 1 came out.

Following on from that, partially because watching those video shorts made me imagine a Visits from the NightHag television series – I feel NightHag would work quite well told via different media, as it’s an incredibly visual story. Either a series, book or a graphic novel perhaps would be incredible. Are you toying with the idea of anything like this for the future?

LM: I absolutely am. After having completed the 7th operetta and concluding the full saga roughly two months ago, I recently began writing VFTNH as a novel. This would likely evolve into a series of novels given the fact that VFTNH is only the first story in the complete arc. (The operetta for NightHag has already been published in my second book: Chapel of Astaroth)

If I were to have such lofty goals, I’d say that elucidating the story in prose will help me shop it around as a film/series script, and just as Stallone insisted on portraying Rocky, I’d insist on the features being soundtracked by The Projectionist…

Given that it’s such a personal creation that’s clearly close to your heart, I’m curious as to the compositional process involved – how much creative control do you take over the music? Do you write the lyrics and then trust the others to write a suitable ‘score’ to the tale, as such?

LM: As with all music I’m a part of, always the writing comes first. I am perpetually writing, averaging 130-150 pieces per year. In the case of NightHag, it was actually written two years before any music was conceived.

Parageist and I have a very symbiotic musical relationship. Every album we make together, we have a pre-emptive conversation where I outline what I’m hoping to hear, what the rough tone should be and length of songs/level of ambience. Then he plays whatever he wishes from that. I don’t lord over him telling him which notes to play.

Some of my other projects are a bit more “democratic”, but with The Projectionist, and these operas, I have a clear vision of what the overall album should sound like. Mainly that the music needs to follow the level of urgency in the plot line.

On NightHag and it’s follow-up The Stench of Amalthia, Parageist submitted the amount of songs I requested based on the number of Acts I’d written and I arranged them in the order that flowed best with the plot. For the third album in the arc, I want to try a new take on writing and have Ghast and Parageist write the guitars to the operetta itself, drawing inspiration from the events therein.

Whilst your vocal attack is one of the most varied in extreme metal, not every voice on the album is yours: Caesar Tiberius and Aven Haunts also reprise their roles as Dr. Bendix and The NightHag / Nurse respectively. What has it been like working with them? I believe there will be quite a few installments of the NightHag series, are they both in it for the long haul?

LM: Technically, the entirety of VFTNH was recorded as one body of work, however, when complete, it clocked in at 84 minutes in length. So the decision was made to split the album up in two parts. The sixth opera is actually 16 Acts and may end up getting the same treatment, but we shall see…

Regardless, yes, I can perform virtually any style of extreme metal vocal one can conjure, but I felt an entire album of me talking to myself would come off as very confusing. One thing I cannot do is sound like a female. So I enlisted longtime friends Aven Haunts and Caesar Tiberius to add additional texture and dynamic to the delivery. Aven has a very eloquent and Victorian quality to her voice that I really thought captured the essence of the NightHag and she can manipulate her voice to sound innocent and sweet (which is NOT her nature at all hahaha). And that glorious witchy cackle of hers? Some of my favorite sections of the opus. I did perform a Nattramn-like shriek as a backing vocal to her NightHag. That will be a constant as the character evolves over time.

Caesar has a coarse, articulate voice that I think brings a good depth to the Dr. Bendix character. He has a way of delivering a flippancy that I hadn’t anticipated when writing the Doctor’s dialog. It especially shines through on The Stench of Amalthia, which you’ll have to wait until next year for, although it is near complete as of this interview.

Both are loyal, lifelong comrades of mine dating back to my first band Spawned by Rot and going forward, every appearance of the NightHag and Doctor Bendix were penned with them in mind.

You’re clearly influenced to a large extent by film, but one in particular receives a solid mention in this visitation – the 1922 expressionist horror masterpiece, F.W Murnau‘s Nosferatu. I don’t want to give too many details away, but I was quite thrilled to hear Murnau invoked in ‘The Globe Theater’, as it’s one of my personal favourite films of all time. Why did you select Nosferatu in particular to be included in the tale in this way?

LM: Silent horror has always been my main love of film. I’m very partial to the absolute creep that Murnau conjures in his expressionistic pictures. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari deserves an honorable mention.

Nosferatu is a film humanity is lucky to have access to as all copies were ordered destroyed by Bram Stoker’s estate and it remains one of the most chilling features in cinematic history.

Long ago (in the SBR days) I had very long hair and after George Howard died, I was out of my head with grief. I was in the middle of watching Nosferatu when the thought popped up in my mind “I can get away with looking that evil…”

So I shaved my head in the hopes that seeing a new person in the mirror would shake me from the soul-shattering misery that my life had become. My ex-wife sobbed as I cut my hair off and I never let it grow back.

While Nosferatu is easily in my top five best films of all, I’d list Benjamin Christensen’s 1922 movie Häxan as my favorite.

I will say, it was important that film were integral to the plot, and I wanted to choose excellence to represent that.

Whilst the NightHag series thus far has been undeniably great, it is incredibly theatrical and far more conceptually intense than much of your other work. I dig it, but it’s unfortunately not too hard to imagine that for many standard black metal fans (especially those who may have discovered The Projectionist by way of your other more straightforward musical outlets), what you have created here may all seem “too much”. However, I believe that it is this type of uncompromising art, fearless in approach whilst being brazenly and unapologetically passionate, that will be remembered in time. I might be going out on a limb here but look at artists like Silencer, Rainer Landfermann‘s work with Bethlehem… against the grain and potentially divisive in their performances? Yes. Spoken about and revered in black metal for decades once people catch on? Unquestionably. So after that long-winded lead in, my question is: do you ever get the feeling that you’re a “misunderstood genius”, in a way; creating art that’s years ahead of the curve and that later down the track everyone will discover this stuff and be captivated by it? Dare you hope that your own name would one day be spoken about with the greats?

LM: It is appreciated to be thought of in such a way.

There are easier ways to achieve acclaim, I could squawk devilish epithets and sing monotone but my motives for performing music have always been of an intellectual nature. I’ve no grand desire to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Maybe I’ve been able to skate by before this by having isolated songs/lyrics that function without effort or reading before this, and there’s a huge body of every musical community that are happy doing just that… but I want more.

Some of the deepest pleasure I’ve gotten from VFTNH have been reviews where it was said that due to the storyline, they were forced to follow the lyrics and truly invest of themselves to appreciate the album.

This whole question reminds me of the passage in Oliver Stone’s Doors movie where, upon being shown Jim Morrison’s film in university someone in the crowd yells “YOU NEED YOUR ART SPOONFED TO YOU!”

The Doors had to trim 3.5 minutes of glorious solos from ‘Light my Fire’ to placate the masses and get a number 1 song. I prefer ‘The End’ myself.

We as bands tirelessly promote our wares, but a fan will only get out of an album what they put into it. Or life for that matter…

Anything worth having is worth the effort to pluck that particular fruit. We have created something bold and unusual. The execution of which finds me proud.

Did we make this album for anyone but ourselves? No. (Aside from George)

It would be deeply satisfying to be viewed as something of a pioneer who expanded on the perimeters of Black Metal, but it isn’t my goal. I’m a Projectionist, I have films in my mind to show you and postulating my legacy is quite frankly, something I don’t allow myself time for. I’m too busy making art at a breakneck pace before I’m too old and decrepit to do it anymore. I’m an atheist. This is all I’m ever going to get.

And finally, today we have the great pleasure of premiering a track from the album – the fantastic penultimate composition ‘Bandages Over Boards’. Could you tell us a little about this particular track?

LM: hard to speak too much on this without spoiling the plot…

There has been a huge catastrophic battle between the NightHag and one of the protagonists. The Globe Theater is in shambles, and the survivors believe they’ve achieved victory.

As they repair the decimated cinema, they learn this is not so. Hence “Bandages over Boards”

This act moves along with punch and vigor, taking place right after the violent climax.

Sincerest thanks again for your time, Lörd Matzigkeitus. It’s been a pleasure. Any final words or wisdom for us all?

LM: Death is greedily, hungrily stalking you with cunning as we speak…

Don’t waste a flicker of breath unless it’s what you’d use your last day for.

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Visits From The Nighthag Volume 2 releases 28th June via Appalachian Noise Records.

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Pre-order Visits From The Nighthag on CD, digital or autographed box set from Appalachian Noise Records here.

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FULL ALBUM PREMIERE – ‘Marquis Of Hell’, by Nocturnes Mist

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We are the wolves of Satan

The true sons of Belial

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Twenty years. Twenty years is a long, long time in black metal. Over these last two decades countless bands have started and finished entire careers and then been largely forgotten, whilst many others that did stay the distance have simply hung around producing albums of questionable quality and touring flaccid, uninspired shows long past their use-by date, a mere shadow of the blazing black flames that once burned within. And then, in extremely rare cases, you might just get a band like Australia’s Nocturnes Mist.

Birthed into blasphemic existence in the heady days of 1997, the six piece of Ominous, Deceiver, Inferus, Zy (also of Ichor), Annunaki (ex-Cauldron Black Ram) and Grotesquery have only gone from strength to indomitable strength. Now, with their absolutely killer new album dropping in a week’s time through Seance Records, the Adelaidian demons have placed themselves firmly in the remarkable position of being over two decades into their career and putting out some of the finest work they’ve ever done. For said album sees the impious pioneers wield a weapon whose blade has been honed further with every countless battle against the hordes of heaven; and you can hear the entire thing here today, as we are beyond pleased and incredibly privileged to bring you the exclusive stream of the fourth Nocturnes Mist full-length, Marquis Of Hell.

So, what torments and agonies does the Marquis have in store? When the ominous introduction of ‘Abyssus’ gives way to the blazing firestorm of ‘Eyes In Fear’ and that no-nonsense, ripping tremolo riff sets in, you instantly know you’re in for a treat. A fluid song that moves from its initial onslaught into a series of evil, dread inducing midsections birthed in 3/4 time and back again; it’s furious, dynamic and dripping in synth that alone calls to mind the morbid glories of the ’90s. The sonorous ‘Cursed’ then slows things down a little and aims for the throat, locking down jaws with a malignant riff to “trap you in hell”… before ‘War Machine’ explodes in a hail of artillery shells and breakneck blasts. This thing absolutely fucking hammers, only broken up by a slightly slower keys-led section with an excellent solo over the top. It’s also around now that you’re reminded how effortlessly and effectively Nocturnes Mist always utilise old-school songwriting variety, a strength that works very well in their favour – in context of the album the impact this track has when it hits is utterly immense. Total energy, total war.

That delicious variety doesn’t take long to be driven home with even greater intensity as the the anthemic swagger and stomp of album centerpiece ‘Wolves Of Satan’ then roars to life. An absolute monster of a song, the diabolically melodic riffs are simply massive – any band would rip their left testicles off and offer them in sacrifice to write a tune this good. One of my favourites, and the perfect counterpoint to the following Southern storm of ‘Marquis Of Hell’. With rabid ferocity the title track tears through varying degrees of carnage on a biblical scale, tearing skin from flesh and flesh from bone in frenzied abandon until a grandiose, despairing conclusion that seals your fate for eternity. In further contrast (I can’t stress enough how each track here has its own identity, and stands alone as memorable and powerful as the next) the penultimate ‘Summoning’ is pure dark poetry, building into a swirling maelstrom that carries into the final movement of this impious series of satanic hymnals; the frenetic opening and slithering, serpentine, beckoning end of ‘Treacherous Ways’ as it entices you into the infernal flames for eternity.

When compared to 2017’s vicious Diabolical Baptism everything sounds great, a more vivid production allowing the leads to strike with greater power. Throatsman Deceiver is in top form too and carrying on his performance from their last opus almost identically, save perhaps a touch more reverb for added atmospheric effect… and all of these ingredients are masterfully blended to create an album that has more variety, ambition and staying power than most of their second-wave ilk. Following on from their superb previous album, Marquis Of Hell feels like these gents couldn’t write a bad song if they tried. This is no retro shit from youngsters looking to recapture glories they weren’t there for. This is pure black fucking metal the way they’ve always done it, stronger than ever, and I hope they continue for another twenty years. Hail Nocturnes Mist, long may they reign in hell.

Marquis Of Hell releases June 13th via Seance Records.

Pre-order Marquis of Hell on cassette or CD from Seance Records‘ webstore here, or on digital, CD or cassette from Bandcamp here.

Support Nocturnes Mist:

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