Despiser – A Review of Misotheist’s ‘Misotheist’

“…and they shall name their god before they die, so that they can die with them.

Their suffering shall stand as a testimony to the mistakes we shall not commit again”

~

Hails. Heard of Norwegian newcomers Misotheist? They unleashed their eponymous debut album Misotheist upon an unsuspecting and ill-prepared world back on November 30th. I gave it an ultra-quick listen back then but was unfortunately far too busy to spend the time with it that it deserved, so I made a mental note to return to it at some point in the near future. Guess what? That time is now. Well, a week or two ago – and since then I’ve been spinning this thing almost daily.

For those idiots like me who may have missed it or let it fall by the wayside somehow, here’s a retrospective review to hopefully convince you of the graven error of your ways. Don’t make the same mistakes I did.

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Photograph by Void Revelations

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So. Why do I like this album so much? Well, to once again inappropriately quote Miss Barrett Browning: Let me count the ways.

1. Starting right from the first thing you see, the cover art is fucking fiiiiiine. Depicting a cherub laying on a skull with an upraised hourglass and wafts of smoke arising from behind, it’s already an emblematic and captivating piece – but look a little closer and you’ll see it’s also wonderfully textured, with the effect of being printed on a canvas backing. The work of an artist known only as Izzy, it’s an intriguing and fitting threshold to the sounds within.

2. The global location. This enigmatic crew hails from Trondheim, Norway – it pleases me every time I hear a new name producing stunning black metal from arguably ground zero for the second wave, because I’m frankly getting sick of seeing/hearing people dribble on that “the Norwegian scene is dead, maaan”. No it fucking isn’t – and here’s the perfect case in point. Well, Terratur Possessions has been the perfect case in point lately… but more on that shortly.

3. The band name. A Misotheist is a despiser of religion but before half of you groan and roll your eyes, not in the typical “satanic” way. This just means a general hatred for ALL things religious; atheists can be misotheists, for example. A far better and much more fitting theme for the discerning modern black metal band/consumer.

4. They remain anonymous. And I mean anonymous; they aren’t hiding behind corpsepaint/hoods/grainy graveyard photos/stage names like Blasphemic Goatcrusher or anything (with apologies to Mr. Blasphemic Goatcrusher, wherever you are). They literally have no band pics, no information about themselves available anywhere, no social media. No egos. It’s simply all about the music, as it should be.

5. The music itself. A stunning blend of complexity, trance-inducing orthodox repetition, stripped-back grandiosity and just plain old rotting flesh. Which may sound like a strange combination, but just listen. It’s powerful, beautiful stuff.

6. The introduction to Beast And Soil. A wonderful cyclic acoustic piece; simple, rustic and authentic… that then flows seamlessly into the first hypnotic main riff of the song.

7. The gravitas of the songs themselves, and the way they progress. The tracks are immense, possessing a weighty power that pins you down as it progresses through several muscular parts, unfolding itself like a gargantuan spider slowly rising from slumber until it towers over you, full glory revealed. Each one is a journey you’ll want to experience multiple times over.

8. How the entire package, all of the above points, come together so well to create a beautiful piece of art. As a holistic package, it’s up there with the best of last year.

9. The fact that it’s out on Terratur Possessions. Misotheist is the last in a stunning consecutive run of releases from Whoredom Rife, Devouring Star, One Tail One Head and Mare, this label has had a fucking banner last few months and if for some inconceivable reason they’ve escaped your gaze to this point, you really should be paying attention to them. Four out of five of those artists are Norwegian too, so any of those aforementioned doubters – go boil your fucking head.

10. My only real complaint? At just over 33 minutes, it’s too short. Which isn’t even a complaint at all, as it just leaves you wanting more and hitting that replay button over and over.

So there you go. An unusual review for me, to the point, no bullshit – exactly the type of attitude you should have when deciding whether or not to check out this album. Do yourself a favour. Available now.

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Purchase Misotheist‘s Misotheist digitally from Terratur Possessions here, or physically from Ván Records here.

Support Misotheist:

  • No official channels. See the Terratur Possessions Bandcamp link above.

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No Tears Please – A Review of Vessel Of Iniquity’s ‘Void Of Infinite Horror’

I’ve figured it out. Cracked the code. Come to a conclusion. Alexander White, the sole member of extreme black/death/noise entity Vessel Of Iniquity, is a Cenobite.

Yes. A Cenobite. One of extra-dimensional beings that first appeared in Clive Barker‘s novella The Hellbound Heart and continued to wreak havoc across the Hellraiser film series. It’s the only possible explanation for how his self-titled 2018 EP and upcoming full-length Void Of Infinite Horror even exist: they are the devices that create the schism in time and space necessary for Mr. White to reach out from his labyrinthine lair and into our reality, to show us the face of pain through his absurd, transcendently violent compositions.

Cenobites are artists of sensory overload, pushing human flesh to the threshold of agony through incomprehensible means… the exact same as Mr. White, and the nightmarish assault has been ramped up to all new levels of torment on his first full-length puzzle box album. His co-conspirators this time around are two more bastions of punishment and dehumanizing wretchedness – Sentient Ruin Laboratories and Xenoglossy Productions. How they can knowingly take part in such horrors I’ll never fathom with my sanity intact; perhaps they’re also run by gibbering demons, a part of the hell-clique run by the High Priest Of Pain himself.

Anyway, so you pressed play on the album – he came, and now you must taste his pleasures. Opener ‘Invocation of the Heart Girt with a Serpent’ immediately shreds all living things into their composite severed parts, suspending them into crazed patterns of supernaturally animated wailing agonies on an insane spiderweb of taut, quivering chains. And when I said immediately, I mean IMMEDIATELY – no time is wasted at all in hitting almost illogical levels of speed and grinding black brutality. There are other artists achieving close to this level of intensity that also couldn’t care less for your safety and personal wellbeing, but theirs is a reckless carnage that sounds like it could fly off the rails at any time. This is not that type of amateurish fumbling. Every single note, every blistering drum hit has been carefully placed through years of practice to cause maximum, instantaneous and lasting psychological and physical trauma. A. White is truly a master of his craft.

And a master in such savage arts knows when to let his victim breathe, to allow a glimmer of false hope. Babalon slows things up for a couple of minutes; although I guess it’s unclear whether this is really intended as a brief respite or he simply wants to savour your sobs and prayers that the suffering will somehow end. Does he seem like someone who cares about what God thinks? Not one iota, and soon enough the convulsion-inducing, coruscating onslaught begins anew.

I could go a track by track breakdown, but I’ll just pick a couple more key moments so I don’t spoil the fun too much. One thing I find particularly fascinating about this whole ordeal is that there’s an constant, almost sub-audial noise seething throughout every track that sounds like a million souls constantly being torn apart and reassembled wrong, only to be rent limb from limb again – it’s fucking terrifying to listen to once you pick it out and quite anxiety inducing overall. The heaving, twisting, mutant madness of Mother of Abomination (which could even be a warped cover of that one COF song, who the fuck knows at this point) sounds like nothing else on this Earth, while the subtle transition from the seeming aftermath of your ordeal into the inexorably creeping return of the miasmic maelstrom that occurs in Once More Into The Abyss lets you know that it isn’t the end… and it will never be the end.

So what do you think? Is the mysterious A.W. an extra-dimensional lord of agony, or just a reclusive genius capable of conjuring mind-blowing audial carnage on an almost biblical scale? Demon to some, angel to others – either way, Void Of Infinite Horror will tear your soul apart.

He has eternity to know your flesh… and he has such sights to show you.

25th January. The torture begins.

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Pre-order Vessel Of Iniquity‘s Void Of Infinite Horror on LP, cassette or digital from Sentient Ruin Laboratories here or from Xenoglossy Productions here.

Support Vessel Of Iniquity:

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Wrathful – A Review of Goddess’ ‘Raped Into Being’

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Worse than any hell described

Darker than any demon

More wrathful than any God

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What do you think of when you hear the phrase “Raped Into Being“? Well, the intention behind the title of fresh Serbian raw black project Goddess‘ debut EP of the same phrase is probably slightly different than you’re expecting.

And also to what many others were expecting, apparently. There’s only one man behind this work – a certain Damjan Stefanovic (who you may recall from BMD favourites MRTVI and many others), and he’s had a bit of trouble getting media coverage for the release. Turns out the big names in the metalblog/zine game won’t touch it, all because of the word “rape” in the title… so let’s explain a bit.

This isn’t your typical “GoatRaping The Asshole Of Jesus Christ” buffoonery that we all know and love, nor is it Cannibal Corpse-esque misogynistic horror fantasy. Taken from the Bandcamp bio, Raped Into Being deals with topics of “animal rights, environmental stewardship and the legend of the Goddess Poine, who brings revenge upon those who harm mother nature and her creations”. Damjan is one of the most ethically solid people I’ve ever spoken to, and he’s made an EP dealing with both the absolute horror that befalls animals in our various industries and the fact that we as a species are absolutely fucking the planet.

Lyrics such as:

The blood of my children pools at your feet
We watch you raping our mother
Turn your face to the sky pretend not to see”

may sound horrifying, but that shit is quite literally happening on a daily basis all over the world. When he screams:

“Life of terror naively thought impossible
Systematic unending abuse

And for your part
A role in the evil you chose to ignore”

he’s referring to all of us turning a blind eye and either not giving a shit or playing the old ‘ignorance is bliss’ card until the day we die. So really, I find it both tragically hilarious and sadly unfortunate that this EP isn’t getting coverage solely based upon an incorrect assumption and not wanting to trigger people, when half of what he’s trying to do here is challenge the status quo and actually make people uncomfortable for an entirely different and noble reason.

Anyway, enough of that – Raped Into Being ain’t a propaganda EP by any means. How about the actual music? All four tracks on offer here are firmly rooted in glorious second wave tradition. Plenty of tremolo and the odd devastating chord rips over great blasting drums and nicely audible basslines (Damjan is a talented multi-instrumentalist and knocks everything out of the park as usual), while the clear yet slightly muffled/strangulated production adds to the claustrophobic and almost panicked atmosphere. The feel of it is noteable, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say rather than just smashing out some generic black metal and then finding a lyrical theme to fit (as is all-too-often the norm), he has created this work with his themes firmly in front of mind and infused his compositions with the misery and desperation of the subject at hand. Just check the GREAT vocals; howls and screams of pure hopelessness, burning anger and sheer agony. You can hear the pain dripping from them and the venom spitting from his throat; this man believes in what he’s saying. He can feel it, and he wants you to feel it.

And feel it you should. Every track is solid on its own or as a whole, the themes covered are more important than ever, and what’s more – it feels like this is only a black metal release because black metal is the only form of expression on the planet that could convey such rage, torment and horror; such misanthropy and hatred for man. Which, really, makes it genuine as hell.

Total support. Digital available now through Life As A Dream Records, tapes have arrived via Medusa Crush Recordings (grab one here), and CDs are on the way through Death Portal Studio. As for vinyl… watch this space.

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Exhausted – A Review of Örmagna’s ‘Örmagna’

As undeniably great as 2018 was for black metal, from what I can see in the BMD inbox 2019 is already shaping up to give it a more than solid run for its cashola. First case in point – the rather remarkable debut album of relatively new Icelandic crew Örmagna.

Now, at the mere mention of this particular part of the world you may already be rubbing your hands together in glee, having at least a few preconceived notions of the dissonant delights that may await within this record. Your assumptions would definitely be at least partially correct, but prepare to pay even closer attention as the self-titled Örmagna has has many more secrets to be to be discovered within its dusty, creaking hallways.

The mysterious five-piece (I know nothing about them bar that they count Ö of Naðra amidst their clandestine ranks) are indeed, on the surface at least, also exponents of the trademark deep and darkly shimmering black metal of their countrymen. Where the similarities fade away however is in their use of other more exotic influences, including a very post-hardcore-esque emotional darkness (and more than a few post-hxc riffs to boot). A unique, rugged feel is at the core of their sound; mix this up with some wonderful dynamic flow and these men conjure up a very ‘narrative’ atmosphere – this album has stories to tell.

Fortunately for us non-Icelandic speakers, the language barrier isn’t an obstacle to the storytelling. Örmagna is an extraordinarily sensory experience – the kind of subtly transportative album that places images in your head so real you might even begin to catch the faintest hints of scent and taste. The guitars alone are almost tactile… the album transports you quite vividly to wherever it wants. You can almost feel it breathing, like an old, time-worn weatherboard house as the warm wind whips through its cracks and crevices.

I’m going to stick with that analogy for a sec, because when the first track kicks in you know you’re in for something a little different – listening to Intro‘s bluesy southern twang might call to mind that very same old weatherboard house, the nameless members of the band all sitting around on the crumbling front porch. As you approach this house that Örmagna built they stare at you warily and you can sense they’ve been to hell and back, drawn faces and bloodshot eyes betraying their trials. “Exhausted, prostrated or worn out” is the English translation of “örmagna”, and that’s definitely fitting – Ö especially embodies that feeling with a killer vocal performance that’s at once both impassioned and at the end of his rope; but as you move through the album’s empty rooms and listen to the stories that linger in them, that vibe will rear its head many times.

The sheer depth and variety of their palette is honestly astounding, even within each single track. ‘Dansar saurs og saurlifis’ begins with a deliberate, slow resonance and deep clean-sung vocals but soon evolves through several shades into the kind of thrilling ride that simply begs repeat listens. There’s a yearning desperation to the tale of titular ‘Örmagna’ and its incredible post-hardcore/punk guitar and drum work, the smoky tendrils of doom and byegones past waft slowly through ‘3 ár í dýflissu’ (that also features more of those somber, low cleans) and speaking of dynamic flow, just check the impact of the abrupt segue between the immense final section of ‘Háskinn í Seljunum’ and the raging tempestual opening of ‘Náladoði’. Put simply: wow. And all of that is tied wonderfully together with the rich blood of Icelandic black metal.

Last year I was hooked on Svartidauði‘s Revelations… album long before release and I couldn’t wait for everyone else to be able to hear it. Well, turns out this is the 2019 version: I’m genuinely amped for people to hear this whole thing in a few weeks. This is an album that drags itself through fury, desolation, hope and ire. It’s an amazing display of passion rising through all adversity, an utterly captivating journey… and it’s also the album I’ve listened to the most so far this year. So thankyou, dear Iceland. May you forever shower us in your bounty.

Out February 1st on Signal Rex and Vánagandr. Pre-orders available now.

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Pre-order Örmagna‘s self-titled debut album digitally from the band here, or keep an eye on Signal Rex here for CD/LP copies or Vánagandr here for cassettes.

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Polar Landscapes – A Review of Cantique Lépreux’s ‘Paysages Polaires’

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As I’m sure you’ve heard me piss and moan about before, it’s a frustrating fact that due to workload I often have to pass up on writing more in-depth pieces on many outstanding albums that I’d thoroughly enjoy taking the time to hysterically yell about to everyone who will listen (and everyone who won’t, too). I’d love nothing more than to write about everything great that caresses my eardrums, I simply don’t have the time. However, there’s one dropping today that I couldn’t let slip by without quickly drawing your attention to: Cantique Lépreux‘s sophomore full-length, Paysages Polaires (“Polar Landscapes”).

There’s a good chance you’re already familiar with these gentlemen. Comprised of members of Forteresse, Chasse Galerie, Mêlée des Aurores and Au-delà des Ruines, the métal noir Québécois horde have already proven themselves beyond all shadow of doubt as a force to be reckoned with – their last (and first) album Cendres Célestes was pretty close to a modern-day masterpiece in the eyes of some. So, with a new record launching in a mere few hours, the question is – can their follow up effort match it?

Well, this time around the album wastes absolutely no time in allowing you to find out. As you would have heard on the second preview track to be released (and if you haven’t, do yourself a favour and press play on that link above right now), opener Le Feu Secret only teases us with the briefest of synth introductions before launching headlong into what the Québécois bands all seem to do best – hyper melodic, impassioned and anthemic black fury.

Yes, you know what to expect and it’s exactly what you were hoping for as chilling and thrilling melodies whip like icy winds over harsh tundra blasts of relentless percussive thunder. It’s immediately transportative, right from the very first notes of the album you’re swept away to the frozen wilderness of the album’s title (and the band’s homeland), a sensation that carries through every song on the album – and they’re all great songs. Heaving, violent, grandiose and sweeping, the energy barely ever dies down but when they do slow things up on moments like wonderful closing track Le Fléau (which aptly calls to mind an even more majestic and honest version of something like Immortal‘s Antarctica), it only proves to be even more spellbinding. There’s even a three-part track with lyrics written by Québécois poet René Chopin as the album’s centre jewel: the titular “Paysages polaires (I, II, III)“.

Now, bear with me here as it could just be because I’ve been listening to this through headphones, but the overall production seems slightly drier and crisper than the last. The sound isn’t quite as ‘huge’ as Cendres Célestes, which ìn a way is a positive as it renders the frozen landscapes they conjure more vivid and everything seems a touch brighter. It’s like the blur of a snow storm has cleared just a little and the inherent brilliance of your surroundings is becoming revealed through the wintry grey. The guitars benefit the most from this, still having just the right amount of fuzz and distortion, and with their killer tone they bite through the mix in satisfying fashion. Blanc Feu‘s tortured howls and grim roars do a superb job of expressing the desperation and gravity of the compositions but really, it’s all about his guitar melodies ringing out and bouncing off the walls of the album’s crystalline, windswept caverns. From his powerful rhythm lines that surge with majesty and menace to the duelling leads and solos through the midsection of Hélas… he puts on an absolute masterclass, partnering with Cadavre‘s indomitable skinsmanship to achieve an almost hypnotic effect amidst the raging tempest.

So, clichéd wintery imagery I’ve spewed out in this all-too-short review aside, does Paysages Polaires hold up to the immaculate grandeur of their debut album? In the humble opinion of this hack writer, the answer to that is a resounding yes – whatever is in the water in Québec, I hope it never dissipates.

Grab yourself a copy now… Winter is here.

Pre-orders available through Eisenwald, releases today (November 30th).

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Purchase Cantique Lépreux‘s Paysages Polaires on CD, vinyl, cassette or digitally from the band here, through Eisenwald here.

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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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