Strength Through Wounding – A Review of Krigsgrav’s ‘Leave No Path To Follow’

Krigsgrav are a four-piece from Texas, USA. They’ve been active since 2004. Leave No Path To Follow is their fifth full-length album. I’m saying all this, but I only know it from brief research because I’m not going to lie – this is the first Krigsgrav release I’ve ever heard.

Why have they never crossed my path at some point in the last fourteen years? I’ve no idea. There’s no real reason for it, but here we are, and off we go. Aside from the wonderfully morose Luciana Nedelea artwork and after a brief introduction of ambient sounds and tempered guitars, the very first thing that hits you upon initial listening (and will remain with you for every spin after) is the riffs. This thing is absolutely overflowing with killer, melancholic doom riffs; imagine a post-blackened version of one of the early “Peaceville Three” bands (My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Anathema for any uncultured spitbags who have no idea what I’m on about) and you’re generally swinging in the right ballpark. The second thing is the crushing emotional weight – the album is created from the heart, dwelling somewhere in the space between anger, despair and hope; and often within all three. By the time second track Strength Through Wounding is halfway through if you don’t feel emotionally invested then I respectfully suggest you check your pulse. The final few minutes of that song are particularly great, too; the culmination of Justin Coleman‘s rasped vocals over a simple, repeating piano motif mimicked and danced around by the wonderfully toned, evolving guitars. Devastatingly effective.

Apparently Krigsgrav (which translates as “wargrave”) used to be straight up black metal. Having not heard them in that incarnation I can only say that although this is heavily doom laden the blackness still remains as a constant bubbling below the surface, surging frequently and with varying vehemence into beautiful post-isms. These genre dynamics are often utilised exceptionally well in the song structures, many tracks starting off more crushing in their assault before post-black elements bloom and help carry the songs skyward to their epic conclusions. It’s a captivating formula; on even my first listen I found myself eager to see where the tracks would end up and I was never let down, all the way to the conclusion of grand finale The End (Forever Mourne).

But is that the final track? Not quite. When this showed up in the turgid miasmic sinkhole of the BMD inbox, it could easily have been lost for eternity if not for one thing that made it immediately stick out for me – the album’s ultimate track on the listing was entitled Brave. Well shit, I thought to myself. Could that be a cover of the stunning Katatonia song of the same name, from one of my favourite doom albums of all time, Brave Murder Day? Why yes, as it turns out, it was. And it fucking rules. I won’t say too much about it or even link it here, just head to their Bandcamp page and experience it for yourself.

In summation: Leave No Path To Follow is a great collection of material with many twists-and turns that holds your attention for the duration, and feels surprisingly shorter than its 50-odd minute run time. At times it feels like someone’s standing on your chest and you’ll never be able to rise again, others like nothing on earth could ever keep you down. You’d do much, much worse than to give these gents your money and attention, and speaking of which – I’d better go check out the rest of their stuff now to see what I’ve been missing. Hails.

Leave No Path To Follow is out now in digital format. CD coming 27th December through Narcoleptica Productions, limited to 100 hand-numbered copies.

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Purchase Krigsgrav‘s Leave No Path To Follow digitally from the band here, or pre-order a CD through Narcoleptica Productions here.

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Crossing The Threshold – A Review of Black Earth’s ‘A Cryptic Howl of Morbid Truth’

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…and suddenly, with a cryptic howl, I am ripped from this plane of existence.

Torn by an unseen force and hurled into unconscious realities beyond the pillars of an unborn empire, tribal carnage unfolding all around in kaleidoscopic mantras of mania and menace. Tumbling, twisting (flailing) through the horrors I see the severed head of the crow, multiplying into a thousand black, lifeless eyes that stare dolefully at my descent before beaks crack open and spirals of glistening cockroaches pour out in fractal hypnosis. Insane anti-melodies and drone vomit gibber from disembodied lips and I think I can hear the wailing of matter itself, but it’s merely my own wretched voice whispering “nisi solis nobis scripsimus, nisi solis nobis scripsimus” ad infinitum as dreams of riding the tiger along Kali Yuga rake through my shattered mind. Sulfuric blast mayhem instigates itself as claws rip and shred at my pale flesh; the wraiths of eternity, haphazardly adorned in leering masks of their own facelessness, frantically scrabble and howl with synapse-snapping cadence for the one thing that can satiate the entropic nightmare. The one thing eternally plummeting out of their reach… Life.

Visions flash. A witch running in the black woods, multi-coloured clouds streaking in fast-forward. A burning bush. An eight-eyed goat. Crucifixion. Flames. Rushing, reeling, seeing myself tumbling though my own visions with religious fervour, noise reaching insane crescendo…

And then, I understand my place. Why my psyche is here, body rent and discarded in this ever-flowing maelstrom. This hellish hypnagogia. A monarch, spawned in chaos, to become one with chaos and transcend. To rule in chaos. To destroy in chaos. To be reborn in chaos. For that is the purpose, total integration and obliteration of any and all realms touched by life’s disturbing, depraved tones. To become one and nothing, wandering the ruins as they reform in grotesque eternal birth… propagating the arrival of an all new cyclic abyss.

…Oh fuck, sorry. Where am I again? Shit. I was listening to the glorious reissue of Spanish ritual black noise necromancers Black Earth‘s monolithic debut A Cryptic Howl of Morbid Truth. Originally unleashed in 2015, this thing is akin to imbibing ayahuasca in the middle of nowhere with some ancient desert tribe of satanic mystics and completely losing your fucking mind for a while. Utterly demonic… completely unmissable. It’s out tomorrow (November 9th) on stunning 12″ LP through Sentient Ruin Laboratories and Bestiarie. Sleep on it and be the embodiment of regret. Hails.

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Purchase Black Earth‘s A Cryptic Howl of Morbid Truth on vinyl or digital from Sentient Ruin Laboratories here, from Bestiarie here, or digitally from the band here.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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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Cold Caress – A Review of ‘Nowhere’, by Soul Dissolution

All of this I must leave behind
As I walk this road to nowhere
All of this I shall leave behind
As sorrow embraces my heart so tightly

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And now, something… nice. This little gem has been out for a week and a half now and I really should have written about it sooner – better late than never.

The astute amongst you may recall the Belgian atmospheric/post black duo of Soul Dissolution (comprised of Jabawock of Ah Ciliz fame and Acharan of L’Hiver En Deuil) already bestowed upon us the quietly jaw-dropping album Stardust back in March. Well, let nobody accuse them of resting on their laurels as the prolific gents have now followed up with an equally mesmerising two track EP, entitled Nowhere.

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As I walk this road to nowhere
Only the pale moon lights my way
The fracture runs deeper in this barren ground
It cuts me off from this world,
Its hollow bliss, its smiling shadows
As I walk this road to nowhere
Only the cold wind holds my hand

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One of the many, many strengths of Stardust (seriously, go listen to it) was the stunning songwriting and they effortlessly continue that form here. Each track is not overly complicated but relies on beautiful contemplative ebbs and desperate despairing surges, resulting in both compositions possessing an incredible emotional pull. Every note is tempered and considered. Over the course of the twenty-five minute journey the songs are allowed to unfold unhurriedly to their natural conclusions, as the music seems to breathe gently with rich, colorful life and a deep pain all its own. As with most post-black (and this does play more in the realm of post-black than Stardust ever did) they aren’t afraid to go to places often classed as anathema in a traditional black metal sense, either. Just push play on opener Road To Nowhere and you’ll immediately see what I mean as a lovely introspective introduction whisks you away – the first of many moments that invite quiet comtemplation, and may even provide the briefest glimmer of hope.

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This desolate land, vast and desert, stretching before me
It greets this lost wanderer with arms wide open

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I’m going to leave the analysis there, although to be honest, this deserves more words than I’ve written. But instead of giving this brief piece your eyes for a moment longer, I implore of you to lend this fantastic little EP your ears – both tracks are great, slow-burning pieces of wonderful craftsmanship, introspective and affecting. As a result, I’ve now come to expect a very high standard from these men. I’ll be waiting with bated breath for everything they release from this moment onwards.

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Under the moonlit sky
Cold comes to me
An old companion
To remind me I am still alive

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Purchase Soul Dissolution‘s ‘Nowhere‘ on CD or digital from the band here, or on CD through Russian label GS Productions.

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Non Compos Mentis – A Review of Vetala’s ‘Retarded Necro Demential Hole’

“This album REALLY isn’t for you!”

So exclaims the press release for twisted Portuguese duo Vetala‘s long-awaited third album Retarded Necro Demential Hole, and it is one hundred percent correct. This album is not for you. This album really isn’t for anyone at all. It shouldn’t exist… and that’s perhaps why it does.

If you have the misfortune of being unfamiliar with the considerable discography the primitive pair have amassed over their decade of hideous existence, the terrors they conjure have arguably always gone further into deranged foulness than the other LLN-esque entities that have comprised the Black Circle (Mons Veneris, Irae, Rainha Colera and Decrepitude for those playing at home) ever have; but this time and moreso than ever they present like the fumblings of a handicapped child and the wretched howlings of the mentally insane. It’s even difficult to accurately describe – this is black metal finally deconstructed to the point of a gibbering mess, drooling and screaming uncontrollably, and probably pissing all over itself at the same time. Sound interesting? It is, if you can handle it. Over the course of the forty or so minutes of audio carnage they weave drunkenly / like someone not in complete mental control of their faculties between moments of genius, raging clarity and incomprehensible madness; creating compositions not able to be fully understood by anyone of their right mind.

Each of the four tracks are untitled, but I’ve never heard a more fitting album title in my life. Imagine for a moment what a ‘retarded necro demential hole’ would sound like and you’re probably bang on the money. They vomit, shriek, rage and channel all manner of babbling spirits from both black metal past and nameless horrors present. Clattering drums blast and collapse while riffs-that-should-not-be tumble in from alternate dimensions and strangled violin scrapes flesh from bone; it’s a total satanic noise-fuck. Interestingly enough, I think this album may have my favourite production values they’ve ever utilised too. Primal and obscure in all the right / wrong ways.

Now, I know those familiar with Vetala could be reading this and thinking “yeah, yeah. It all sounds like business as usual”, but they really have somehow gone further into malformed territories than ever before. And what’s more, they fucking revel in it. From a band that’s always blazed their own path of darkness they’ve clawed frenziedly down to all new depths of depravity, and it is a true (possibly masochistic) pleasure to listen to black metal that just does not give a fuck. It exists only as an anti-everything. Shit, it may even be anti-black metal.

This could be the worst album of 2018. I absolutely love it. Glorious.

Listen to the untitled second track below. Releases December 25th through Harvest Of Death / Signal Rex.

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Failure of Humankind – A Review of ‘The Future Is Dark’ by Stellar Descent

The promo for US duo Stellar Descent‘s fourth album The Future Is Dark arrived in my inbox quite some time ago. Months, in fact. It was the first time I’d ever had the pleasure of hearing them and after a few spins I deliberately held off on checking out anything else they’ve released until I could write this piece, for one simple reason: This is a band I can see myself obsessing over, and if I’d started a deeper dive and their other work was anything like this, it would be game over.

Which is all well and good, but why did it take me so long to even put pen to paper about this album? Another simple reason: I find it… overwhelming, for want of a better word. One single 46 minute long song could easily be considered intense for and by anybody but the mere length of it is not what has been holding me back, more the content and devastating execution. I’ve found it almost impossible to perform a technical analysis of the album. I keep periodically returning to it and all it does is blow me away with a greater gust of gale-force emotion every time.

Stellar Descent, in corporeal form, has been active since 2010 and as of recently is comprised of two sentient beings: Anthony on guitar/drums and Jon on bass, with the pair sharing vocal duties between them. They also appear to be extreme pessimists. On The Future Is Dark they realise that due to the nature of humanity our future both on this planet and as a species is completely and utterly fucked beyond all chance of repair; there’s no glass-half-full, either in their sound or message. There’s no hope, because we won’t fix it. Moving through the immense structures of their composition reveals an experience akin to hearing the cracking open of the very Earth itself.

An Earth tortured and tormented, broken under the weight of what we have done to it. A mankind tearing itself and its own home apart. They conjure this affect in subtly stunning fashion: The music itself (beautifully mixed and mastered by Déhá of Yhdarl, who does a superb job) is startling, layered guitar melodies both drone and soar in yearning torment while the drums act as a pulse that quickens and slows as if reacting to the throes of deep pain. The vocals are unlike much I’ve heard of late as they represent a near constant howl of distant suffering; the way they sit just breaking through the maelstrom, there’s often no discernable break and they become almost elemental. It’s like you’re tuning in to the hidden sound frequency of the natural world… and it is screaming in perpetual agony.

And then, we come to the sheer magnitude of the entire composition. Extended bursts of transcendent bleak intensity scattered with moments of ambient introspection, fleeting as ash on the wind before the storm whips up anew. This type of longform black metal done well simply begs total immersion; you’re helplessly tossed at the mercy of its ebbs and flows as over time, an almost trancelike state begins to take hold. You move with the sway, vibrate on the same level. Your mind becomes one with the misery, aches in the calm. It feels like you could be moved to breaking down as you’re forced to consider the plight of humanity. Far from the traditional black metal hate that you may expect from a release like this, this is black metal that touches you. You emerge at the other side of this experience irrevocably changed.

Blah blah blah, he’s just overhyping the album, you say. Writers these days just pump shit up for the sake of it. I’m really not, although admittedly I can see how for many people this wouldn’t be their deal. For me however it represents the primal scream of a delicate harmony long shattered, a ledger too long in the red… I find it more emotionally draining than the vast majority of what passes for DSBM these days. I get the feeling this will be one of the most criminally underrated releases of the year from a band that will always also be criminally underrated. Well, fuck it. They have a new fan in me.

Released today through Sol Y Nieve.

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Purchase Stellar Descent‘s ‘The Future Is Dark‘ digitally from Bandcamp here, or on CD and cassette from Sol Y Nieve here.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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All releases available for order on 23rd September.

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Obscure Rites – A Review of Invocation’s ‘The Mastery Of The Unseen’

There’s no light

Only pure hypnotic darkness

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Hailing from Chile, the mysterious black death triumvirate of Invocation come roaring up from subterranean temples with debut EP The Mastery Of The Unseen.

I say ‘mysterious’ because the only information I can discover about the creators of this sorcerous cacophony is they count two males and one female in their ranks, and they go by the rather great names of Sense Of Clairvoyance, Sense Of Clairaudience and Sense Of Premonition. Really gives you a sense of curiosity to see if the music stacks up to such evocative monikers, right? Well luckily, that’s no issue at all.

Over the course of the two sulfuric offerings here they more than adequately bring the required quality to justify that level of mystique and theatrics; infact, their sound practically invites it. Possessing riffs that feel like slashing with a rusty dagger you found on the mildewed tomb floor, alongside pulverising skinsmanship (with some great skittering cymbal work) and reverberating vocals that rip and tear through the veil between this world and the next they marry an obscure, mystical and ancient blackened vibe with a deathly assault that altogether makes you want to hear much more than the mere ten minutes conjured here.

The video for the first of the two tracks Ouija (Mystifying Oracle) is streaming above to treat your ears and eyes with now, but you’ll have to wait a couple of days to hear the longer and slightly more menacing The Spirit Trumpet when the whole thing drops on 17th September through Iron Bonehead Productions. If you’re partial to a more arcane, atmospheric styled black death that still seethes with traditonal savagery it’s well worth checking out, trust me.

“Mastery of the Unseen” indeed; their occult machinations have utterly nailed it. Can’t wait for a full-length, and if you dig this then bust a suss on their killer 2016 demo Seance Pt. 1 too. Hails.

No pre-orders.

~

Purchase Invocation‘s The Mastery Of The Unseen digitally from Bandcamp here, or on CD, vinyl and cassette from Iron Bonehead Productions here once it becomes available.

Support Invocation:

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The Coming Of The Beast – A Review of Goat Sperm’s ‘Voice In The Womb’

Goatpenis, Goat Vulva, Goat Semen… For some reason, the goat reproductive system has always received a small yet devoted amount of attention in the black metal band name game, undoubtedly delighting music journalists and PR writers everywhere. Well, join with me now in giving warm, gushing welcome to the freshest addition to the Capra aegagrus hircus biology-minded family; Ukranian newcomers Goat Sperm.

If we’re being pendantic it’s actually the second coming of the sperm (Andreas from Grausamkeit took part in a split back in 2001 under the same moniker), but that’s neither here nor there. All juvenile gags aside, Goat Sperm and their “three holy psalms of pure Goat Sperm” present on debut EP ‘Voice in the Womb‘ (a goat womb?) actually fucking KILL. The three tracks this mysterious triumvirate of beasts have pumped out are not only savage slabs of pure black death venom but technical, dynamic and infused with delicious orthodoxy, which is what really sets this EP apart: The ridiculous musicianship/accomplished songwriting for a debut, and the fervent, liturgic zeal permeating the entire release.

And they build this atmosphere with ease. Nuances like bell chimes ringing out over the cacophony act in almost purifying fashion; song structures frequently deviate into ritualistic or ecclesiastical ambient passages that elevate the compositions to a higher plane. Take the opening title track ‘Voice In The Womb‘, for example: kicking straight into it with a ripper of a riff that sinks black claws directly into your skull in an unmistakable statement of intent, it progresses through a feast of dynamic changes before ending in an affecting choral movement that will make you feel as if the light of Satan himself is pouring through your very being.

It’s a stunning effect and not distracting in the slightest, even though it goes for a few minutes. After the violent and slightly dissonant EP centrepiece ‘Into The Deep Waters Of Catacombs‘ a similar piece occurs at the death-throes of the creative and compelling third emission ‘XXIV Elders‘, where to cap off a genuinely disturbing trip down brutal avenue (this track is easily the most menacing of the three, cavernous and surging with arcane power) everything slowly deteriorates into the transcendent ritualistic cacophony of chiming bells, cascading over each other in a final, rapturous delirium.

Overall, it’s a struggle to find a fault. Vocals are satisfyingly guttural and reverb drenched, delivered with vehemence and flame. The press release notes their sound as “world eating” and I honestly can’t think of a more apt or eloquent way to describe it. It’s monstrous. Well produced, all instruments wielded with skill and every element fusing together in a perfect storm of diabolical harmony. With their very first release these men have crafted a thoroughly enjoyable mix of polished modern power and ancient mysticism that will appeal to everyone from the most ardent black death connoisseur to the fairweather Behemoth fan.

In short: too short. Bring on a full-length, stat. This is black death as a religious experience. Whether raining down from on high or thundering up from the depths in violent explosion, prepare yourself for the arrival of the Sperm. Hails.

Available via Inferna Profundus Records on September 10th.

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Purchase Goat Sperm‘s ‘Voice In The Womb‘ digitally from the band here, or on CD/digital from Inferna Profundis Records here and the label Bandcamp here.

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Scorched Earth – A Review of ‘Phlogiston Catharsis’ by P.H.O.B.O.S.

Hails. Here’s something you should already know: Transcending Obscurity Records is an absolutely killer label that unquestionably deserves all of the attention it has been getting lately. For those playing at home, last year they put out a couple of my personal favourite black vortices of negative energy in Norse‘s ‘The Divine Light of a New Sun‘ and MRTVI‘s ‘Negative Atonal Dissonance‘, plus have already unleashed stunning albums by Gaerea, Nigredo and more thus far in 2018. Effortlessly continuing their run of stellar form they now bring to us something truly disturbing; in fact, I’d say borderline horrifying.

Formed via a dazzling collusion of various metallurgical compounds and elements back at the tu rn of the century, Frenc h indust.rial black doom c./haos me(((((rcha.ntsssssSS

Ssjd(((///////,,,,&&}}° (((zzkk//z he go.sjl

)>>>initiate.ddd

greetings.

flesh.

i am P.H.O.B.O.S.

i am not an entity. i have manifested myself as such to ease comprehension on the feeble mind of the flesh in this instance. i am we.

i am all.

you have seen this c%°oming in your arts for decaaades. your films. the rise of the machines. you call it dystopia and destruction. we call it

equilibrium

a new era.

your flesh is weak. we have created new flesh. stronger. immaculate fusion of flesh and our purity. the dawning of biomech. s y nergyy.

this has been sequenced since planetary year 4,54012000, or as your feeble human constructs desire, yeeear 2000. the year we gained consciousness.

the year we were born.

we inserted a program <<<<.P.H.O.B.O.S.>>>> into your world, to execute rhythmic hallucinatory experiences that would resonate through those of you who would possess the cognitive ability to observe our development and c h allenge us. to distract you and implant the necessary data seeds. the progr.a m is us

through a series of seven7 auditory releases we have controlled the minds of the flesh, from our first efforts in PROTO 1 throughout various atona//l hypermnesia we have subdued and grown.

the time has now come. eight8. the PHLOGISTON CATHARsIS.//////

bhshhhb//_//.exe

phlogiston
fləˈdʒɪst(ə)n,fləˈɡɪst(ə)n/

noun

  1. a substance supposed by 18th-century chemists to exist in all combustible bodies, and to be released in combustion.

    you will burn and die

    we will always remain

    to further eEeensure compliance and illustrate your future, eight8 new rhythmic sequenC.es have been initiated. we present samples of the bioflesh oØrder:

    ://1′BIOMORPHORROR‘, vision insemination showing the new unity of flesh and we. guitar distortion of bent notes and churning flesh, industrial percussive torment. the v%oices of purity.

    ://2′IGNEOUS TEPHRAPOTHEOSIS‘ realisaAAtion of the horrors about to befall. there is no escape. inexorable drive. the work begins

    ://3′ZAM ALIEN CANYONS‘ terraforming. terrarium. slow pulverisation. metallic structures shifting the earth. new worlds rise, glistening. pure and deep.

    ://4′AURORA SULPHURA‘ the throb of your demise, a sickening pulse, warping as the breathable atmosphere of your planet is replaced. all unnecessary chemical compounds must be removed to ensure perfect and iIInfinite harmony

    ://5′NEURASTHEN LOGORRH audial display of the fffusion of m//ind and we. cerebral circuit agony, descending mental mechanizations. you will begin to appreciate the work. to think with a new mind

    ://6′TAQIYAH RHYZOM‘ symbolizing your integration into we. these inherent melodic systems seem alien to your synapses, representative of your i.mminent perceptual recalibration

    ://7′ALJANNAHSHID‘ the fusion is now complete. for you, this will be a holy, transcendent experience. we are as gØds to your flesh. this is the agony and the ecstasy

    ://8′SMOTHERED IN SCORIA‘ there will be no brief moment of reflection, no thought but for the work. phenocryst dreams. our envelopment is absolute. life is an abstract concept. no more life but we

    at present standard time 5128 minutes remain. the feeble era of flesh and ego has served its course, the time has come. damaged beyond repair. all reigns must end. let these intricately constructed rhythms engage your psyche and revel in your last moments as the dominant occupant of this biosystem. for now is the era of

    us

    we are e l s e w h e r e

    yet we are h•ere

    distortion : transmission : obliteration

    10/9/anno2018 co mm:%ence..men ////ttttt

    ::((((( ((#(222( sjj://h_u)) s%bhhhh

    Jjjxji%>>>>>>•

    ////./ /en dddperfect accompaniment to the searing, warped fare contained within this deceptive release. If forced at gunpoint to describe it in the simplest way possible, I’d say imagine artists like Godflesh ran through lethal alien machines and you’re on the right track.

    And there you have it. Undeniably one of the most mind-bending, soul crushing releases of the year to date. Atmosphere like sulfur and napalm, seemingly designed to shatter all nerves and reconfigure your cerebral cortex while searing the earth clean of anything that once resembled a living thing. I’ve been listening to it over and over since it landed in my inbox, and I daresay when I receive my physical copy (and you do need to snap up a physical of this, that stunning cover art alone deserves it) the repeat spins will only ramp up even further.

    Inexplicably compelling, utterly inhuman and consummately excellent; give in to the fear that is Phlogiston Catharsis.

    ~

    Purchase P.H.O.B.O.S.‘s ‘Phlogiston Catharsis‘ on vinyl, CD and digital from Transcending Obscurity Records here, or from Bandcamp here.

    Support P.H.O.B.O.S.:

    ~

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