Wolfspell Records – ‘Autumnal Equinox’ Label Spotlight

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

~

Artist: Höstblod

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

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

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

~

Artist: Graveborne

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

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

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

~

Artist: Mourning By Morning

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

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

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

~

Artist: Daagh

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

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

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

~

Artist: Runeshard

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

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

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

~

Artist: Hermóðr

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

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

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

~

All releases available for order on 23rd September.

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

There’s no light

Only pure hypnotic darkness

~

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.

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~

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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.

~

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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~

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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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    A Review of Ulven’s ‘Death Rites Upon A Winged Crusade’

    A PROWL AMONG THE TWILIGHT WINDS

    PAGAN TALES OF HOWLING DEATH

    ~

    Son: Dad?

    Father: Yes son?

    Son: I think… I want some black metal.

    Father: Oh thank Christ, I was worried you’d turn out like your mother. What type of black metal, son?

    Son: I don’t know Dad. The kids at school have just been talking about it, and… I want to give it a try.

    Father: Really? What are they listening to?

    Son: Well, Mark is into some band called “Cradle of Filth”, Clay likes this pretty lady “Murky” or something…

    Father: Stop right the fuck there. I got you son. Try this – ‘Death Rites Upon A Winged Cross’, by Ulven.

    Son: That sounds scary.

    Father: It is, and it fucking should be. It’s the latest from Sean Deth, the absolute beast of a man behind Burial Oath, Witchhelm, Lucian The Wolfbearer and others. It’s got everything you could ever need.

    Son: What do you mean?

    Father: It takes everything that’s good about black metal, throws it in a huge pot, bakes it over the fires of hell and turns it into a lethal, seething monument to all things dark.

    Son: Wouldn’t that sound a little derivative?

    Father: How the fuck do you know words like “derivative”? You’re ten years old. Anyway no, not at all. Just listen to this shit: The portentous tolling of a bell, like spirits are being called down… ‘Howling Death‘ screaming from the speakers, lashing with the force of a thousand tortured souls. Hear that? That’s pure black metal power. Not like the crap being peddled by so many bands nowadays. This is black metal done right.

    Son: What’s black metal done “wrong”?

    Father: The stuff your coward friends listen to, son.

    Son: Oh.

    Father: Look, pay attention. This shit is incredible. Hear this track, ‘Night of the Long Knife‘? This demonic waltz conjures a darkness so pure in integrity that light itself trembles in its presence. It’s one of the greatest tracks released this year.

    Son: It does sound pretty good.

    Father: You’re damn right it does. And that’s not all, every other track on this thing is golden too.Winged Promise’? Pagan flames licking at the skies, burning the flesh of the angels. Beautiful. Listen to those vocals, too: cripes that man has a serious throat on him and knows exactly what we wanna hear. ‘Necrolust‘ is a straight-up, wolfish old-school ripper. Those classic riffs on ‘Blood Drained from the Veins of Black Hearts‘ will make you bang your fuckin’ head and raise your claws to the sky like nothing else. And the last track… A masterclass in songwriting. I think I’m gonna cry.

    Son: You sound like you really like this, Dad.

    Father: Like it? I fucking LOVE it, boy. It’s better than his first slab of void worship and that was already killer. If you want the perfect example of why black metal is the single greatest genre on this sad and sorry excuse for a planet, this is it right here. It’s got it all. The alpha and the omega of black metal. Grab a copy and show it to all your poser friends. You’ll be the coolest kid in class.

    Son: Okay Dad. Wait, where do I pick this up from?

    Father: Glad you asked, son. It drops tomorrow on CD and cassette through Fólkvangr Records with Death Kvlt Productions handling the vinyl. Go hit your mother up for your pocket money.

    Son: Thanks Dad, you’re the best.

    Father: I know. Oh, and son?

    Son: Yes Dad?

    Father: Hail Satan.

    Son: Hail Satan, Dad.

    ~

    Purchase Ulven‘s ‘Death Rites Upon a Winged Crusade‘ on vinyl and digital from Death Kvlt Productions here, on cassette and CD from Fólkvangr Records here, or digitally from their own Bandcamp here.

    Support Ulven:

    ~

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    Transcendence – A Review of Soul Dissolution’s ‘Stardust’

    Fleeing from this senseless life

    Spent walking through the maze of vain dreams

    Above smothering walls and obscuring clouds

    My soul will find a place among the stardust

    ~

    Admttedly, along with its cousins epic and symphonic, post black metal is another style that doesn’t get anywhere near the coverage it deserves here on the rambling, barely coherent pages of BMD. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m against it; it’s more simply due to the fact that unless it’s something utterly incredible it usually doesn’t catch my ear. Which makes ‘Stardust‘, the sophomore full-length from Belgian atmospheric/post black duo Soul Dissolution, particularly remarkable: When I pressed play on this stunning creation I immediately dropped everything and just listened. Hell, I was at work, in the middle of my daily grind, when I literally had to pause what I was doing. That’s how good it is: the kind of album that makes you stop and give it your full, undivided attention.

    After igniting the spark for the project in 2012 the pair of Jabawock (Ah Ciliz, L’Hiver en Deuil, Marche Funèbre) and Acharan (L’Hiver en Deuil) have bestowed a fresh release upon us every two years and originally released ‘Stardust‘ back in March through Black Lion Records. That was a CD pressing, but in good news for all of us analog weirdos out there it’s now copping a stunning, well-deserved cassette release through none other than the great Fólkvangr Records, which makes this the perfect time to finally check it out if you missed it the first time around.

    But where to start about why this is so great? With apologies to the memory of Elizabeth Barrett Browning: let us count the ways. The riffs are impeccable; classic, hook-laden triumphs overflowing with yearning, begging you to soar into the heavens with them as the lyrical themes of the album often suggest. As on first album ‘Pale Distant Light‘ the drum stool is expertly manned by Robin “Forge” Stone of mighty Australian outfits Norse/Somnium Nox/Greytomb/The Amenta, who shows yet again why he’s undeniably one of the best in the game. The dual vocals shine, with both men more than up to the task of matching the emotional pull of the music; which then brings us to the songs themselves. Oh, the songs themselves.

    I wish I could be more eloquent and poetic about this as it truly deserves it, but the feeling these gentlemen pack into every note is simply exquisite. The album ebbs and flows like the tides drawn by the moon; each track unmistakably part of a coherent whole, yet with its own beautiful movement. The title track for example is a determined stormer, pushing through, transcending the tragedy to emerge triumphant on the other side. Personal favourite ‘The Last Farewell‘ is a gentle build up into an absolutely gorgeous composition that almost overwhelms; a frequent occurrence throughout an album so delicately sad yet powerfully uplifting, enveloping you in a wonderful fragility of both depression and hope. It really does perfectly illustrate the feeling of letting go and ascending from this plane of existence.

    In short: you need to hear this album. Available now at name-your-price download and digipack CD from their Bandcamp with the cassette dropping September 14th through Fólkvangr Records, they’ve also got a new EP coming later this year entitled ‘Nowhere‘, so you won’t have to wait long for more. Is this a masterpiece? Strong words, but maybe. Just stop, take some time, and listen.

    ~

    Purchase Soul Dissolution‘s ‘Stardust‘ on CD or digital from the band here, from Black Lion Records here or on cassette from Fólkvangr Records here.

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    ~

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    Dead Is All Human Truth – A Review of SIETE LAGUNAS’ ‘I & II’

    Oh, sick children of the world!

    The kings of old have died,

    dead is all human truth.

    The forests of Arcadia have died,

    His old joy has died.

    Oh, sick children of the world…

    ~

    Some fresh meat: La Caverna Records is a new label from Bogota, Columbia. At this stage they have just two releases to their name; a reissued US death metal demo tape that had only ever been released on 100 copies way back in the heady days of 1993, and a compilation of the first two demos from a subterranean raw black noise project from Columbia. So because A) I like their ethos of pushing obscure shit and B) label boss David is a really nice guy, let’s take a look at the blacker of the two: ‘I & II‘, from Siete Lagunas.

    Formed in 2017, Siete Lagunas (“Seven Lagoons“) is the duo of FFL and ADH, both also members of the death metal band Cóndor. They have two demos out (titled ‘I‘ and ‘II‘, strangely enough) both of which are packaged together on this CD; and they play a type of ultra raw, depressive black that admittedly, many may find challenging.

    Pressing play on the album, you wait for the music to hit… But it eases in with some ambience and feedback, which lasts for roughly half the track. What does hit you first when everything finally springs into life are the vocals. Mixed high (far higher then the relatively soft guitars), AEH‘s frantic howls assault your ears and as a result, whenever present become almost the driving force of their sound for the duration of the record. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea; turn back now.

    For the rest of you intrepid travellers, both demos hold some surprises. The whole of ‘I‘ becomes worth it for me when we come to track four, ‘Los Bosques de Arcadia‘. It’s a great track; morose, tortured and where they really nail what they’re going for, plus the lyrics are a Spanish re-imagining of ‘The Song of the Happy Shepherd‘ by poet W.B. Yeats so that’s a massive tick from me. The final piece is also an interesting interpretation of a traditional Finnish instrumental, ‘Väinämöinen Sutatenza‘. Let it not be said that there are no interesting influences at play here.

    On to ‘II‘, which explodes in a more energetic way with the minute long ‘Descenso Lunar‘ (“Moon Descent”). It’s more immediate, almost punkish and the howls are still front and centre while possibly being even more manic than ever before (which continues to the point where he absolutely loses it on subsequent tracks; this man definitely throws some passion behind his work). ‘El Rugir de la Segunda Laguna‘ is where things take a twist and head in to straight-up noise territory, something they return to a couple of songs later and I hope they expand upon on in future releases. As with the first demo, there’s one track that stands out to me: final piece ‘Oscurece en la Segunda Laguna‘. A simple, introspective guitar piece, it’s nothing special on its own but works perfectly to tie up everything you’ve just heard.

    And before you know it, that’s it. The entire runtime of the thing clocks in at around 20-25 minutes. Restricted to 300 copies with the first 70 coming with a silver gelatin print band photograph, it’s a solid, extremely embryonic, sometimes taxing and possibly promising start to the careers of Siete Lagunas that definitely demands active listening, and an intriguing first release from a label that could turn out to be an absolute gem for releasing some quality underground shit. Watch this space.

    ~

    Purchase Siete Lagunas‘ ‘I & II‘ on CD and digital from La Caverna Records here, or digitally from their own Bandcamp here.

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    ~

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    More Of Fire Than Blood: Anaal Nathrakh Discography Dissection

    “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face… Forever.”

    The above is a well known quote from George Orwell‘s ‘1984‘, originally intended to reference oppression by the government. However, I personally tend to take it as illustrating humanity’s ever-present primal instinct to continuously fuck itself over at any given opportunity. No matter how many leaps and bounds we attempt to take as a species, guaran-fucking-teed there will always be an equal amount of horror and general shitheaded-ness perpetrated by us at the same time… Our own boot, grinding our faces down into the dirt again.

    Anaal Nathrakh, the reigning lords of absolute disgust in the human race, understand this. This theme or similar harsh stabs of teleological nihilism has run throughout the UK black industrial grinders’ work to devastating effect as for long as they’ve been blasting, and it seems like it’s going to be no different on their freshest slab of glistening violence: the tracklist for upcoming tenth album ‘A New Kind of Horror‘ (featuring guest spots from Brandan Schieppati and someone known only as “Danny The Complete Lunatic“) is chock-full of titles like ‘Obscene as Cancer‘, ‘New Bethlehem/Mass Death Futures‘ and ‘Are We Fit for Glory Yet? (The War to End Nothing)‘. If that isn’t enough, DaveV.I.T.R.I.O.L.’ Hunt has also said that it’s “not a happy album”. You don’t say.

    With the release date/end of days/nominated ground zero of 28th September creeping inexorably closer, they’ve unleashed a small portentous taste of the upcoming carnage through WW1-themed teaser track ‘Forward!‘, pre-orders are up through Metal Blade Records here plus you can also sample 30 second clips of every other track on Google Play here or Amazon Music here. So, what better time to take a look at their entire collected works of annihilation? I absolutely love these glorious bastards and could wax lyrical about them until the napalm wipes us all out, but someone else who is equally as passionate about them is Ivan Gossage of the great Secrets of the Black Arts: Community, who has not only dissected and reviewed each release but generously compiled a playlist of their choicest cuts to get you salivating until the new one arrives. So check out the lyric video and pulverising industrial groove of ‘Forward!‘ and I’ll hand over to Ivan below. Note: Bandcamp links or full streams to each album attached where possible.

    “Who gives a fuck if your enemy’s starving? Forward…”

    ~

    TOTAL FUCKING NECRO (2001) (compilation of ‘Anaal Nathrakh’ demo and ‘Total Fucking Necro’ demo)

    A creature awakens, but it is undeveloped and more like a locus of naked, unbridled, black, hateful grinding energy… screaming and screaming.

    This release stands primarily as an expression of potential, as many elements that appear will henceforth be scattered and reassembled in future releases. Two songs are Mayhem covers, establishing legitimacy within the black metal genre. Many of the songs will also be rehashed in future albums; including ‘Satanarchist‘ (which possesses a melody that will largely be abandoned in the next album and which won’t reappear for almost ten years until ‘In the Constellation of the Black Widow‘), ‘The Technogoat‘ and ‘The Supreme Necrotic Audnance‘ (which will appear on ‘The Codex Necro‘), the epic ‘Anaal Nathrakh‘ (the song, which will be renamed ‘Genesis of the Antichrist‘ and reappear on the ‘When Fire Rains Down From the Sky, Mankind Will Reap as it has Sewn‘ EP), ‘Necrogeddon’ (which will later reappear on ‘Eschaton‘). ‘Lethal Diabolic‘ also notably contains very brief snippets of nearly all of Dave‘s vocal styles that will be developed over time.

    ~

    THE CODEX NECRO (2002)

    Although there was the ‘Total Fucking Necro‘ EP released prior to ‘Codex…‘, this is really where the story begins. This album features a sound that is unclean, primal, raw, and utterly uncompromising (ie. “necro”), complete with absolutely savage, apocalyptic aggression and volume-distorted, crushing production, plus dystopian effects… black industrialized grind. The more simplistic song structures are often catchy but without the melodic, epic, or overtly industrial moments that pepper (to some degree or another) virtually all of the subsequent releases. The completely unhinged vocal style, while lacking the variety of later releases, make use of the limits of recording equipment in its utter brutality (try ‘When Humanity is Cancer‘… the first song that I ever heard by AN). The impossibly fast programmed drumming is the birth of the industrial elements that are developed over time and really become more prominent in later albums. Importantly, this album features the song ‘Submission is for the Weak‘, possibly their strongest track and one of the best black metal songs of all time, in my opinion. Ultimately, ‘Codex…‘ provides an unrefined prototype for the foundational black grinding rage and fury that is THE most distinct element of their sound.

    ~

    WHEN FIRE RAINS DOWN FROM THE SKY, MANKIND WILL REAP AS IT HAS SOWN (EP) (2003)

    Much like the following ‘Domine Non Es Dignus‘ in terms of song structure and musical/vocal technique for the most part, but features a production that could more or less accurately be described as halfway between ‘The Codex Necro‘ and ‘Domine…‘.

    A transitionary release (although really all of them sort of are up until ‘In the Constellation of the Black Widow‘), in which the highlights include the epic sections of the title track, Attila Csihar on guest vocals for ‘Atavism‘, and the complete riff bad-assery that is ‘Genesis of the Antichrist‘ (one of their strongest and grooviest tracks to date); a quality which will be developed further in ‘Domine…‘ but even more so with the upcoming ‘Eschaton‘.

    ~

    DOMINE NON ES DIGNUS (2004)

    With ‘Domine…‘, Anaal Nathrakh solidified perhaps the second most distinctive element of their formula by injecting bits of epic melody and clean vocals into their supreme necrotic audnance (check ‘This Cannot be the End‘ or the incredible ‘Do Not Speak‘, also a contender for best AN song IMO).

    Overall, this album retains a lot of the dirtiness and violence of the previous release with songs like ‘The Oblivion Gene‘ and ‘Revaluation of all Values‘ and it is easy to tell that Mick has not yet established the overall cleaner, thicker production style that future releases possess. But, that abrasive onslaught, unrestrained in ‘Codex‘, is now tempered with more calculated and methodical tracks such as ‘To Err is Human…‘, and ‘Swallow the World‘. A classic and essential AN album.

    ~

    ESCHATON (2006)

    Added to the previously established formula are two more important elements here: catchiness and production. While the catchy element was always sort of there but evolved to reach this level, there is a noticeable shift in production to a thicker, fuller sound, and this is the first album that approximates a mix quality that is still retained to this day. Probably ties with ‘Codex‘ and ‘Domine‘ (mostly because of ‘Do Not Speak‘) for my overall favorite album and stands above all subsequent releases for me.

    There is not a single thing wrong with ‘Eschaton‘ as far as I can tell. Every song is awesome and almost half of them are standout in the entire AN repertoire; including the razor sharp insidious riffs of ‘The Destroying Angel‘, the addictive juxtaposition of melody and ruthlessness of ‘Between Shit and Piss We are Born‘, the neck-breaking groove of ‘Waiting for the Barbarians‘ and the almost mournful epic approach of the vocal/lyrics in the clean sections of ‘When Lion Devours both Dragon and Child‘. Attila Csihar also returns on guest vocals for the robotic closer ‘Regression to the Mean‘.

    ~

    HELL IS EMPTY AND ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE (2007)

    Hell is Empty…‘ is unique for a few reasons. First is the liberal use of melody throughout, nearly every song has significant melodic clean section. Second, Dave adds an additional feature to his already wide vocal-style spectrum; what can best be described as the ROARING vox heard in many of the tracks but most prominently in various places of ‘The Final Absolution‘, and in the choruses of ‘Screaming of the Unborn‘ and ‘Lama Sabachthani‘. Third, the blokes sort of lightened up to an extent on this one (somewhat in comparison to ‘Eschaton‘, but significantly when contrasted with the following release, ‘Constellation…‘).

    Besides all those clean sections they are really capturing the accessible, catchy, almost thrashy aspects of their sound and the apocalyptic fire is more on the back burner. Contrast the first minute of opening track ‘Der Holle Rache Kocht In Meinem Herzen‘ with the first minute (after the intro) of ‘In the Constellation…‘ (starting at about 1:10) to hear what I mean by this. The result is that the songs are almost immediately memorable, with ‘Screaming…‘, ‘Virus Bomb’, ‘The Final Absolution‘ (crowning track for me), ‘Lama Sabachthani‘, and ‘Sanction Extremis (Kill Them All)‘ being the standout tracks. The exception to all this is the closing track ‘Castigation and Betrayal‘, which throws all that shit out the window and stands with several of the tracks from ‘Codex…‘ as one of the most chaotic, ugly, and relentlessly hateful songs that they have ever made. A premonition of things to come.

    ~

    IN THE CONSTELLATION OF THE BLACK WIDOW (2009)

    This is an album that really cements Anaal Nathrakh in many ways. While ‘Hell…‘ seemed to indicate a consideration of achieving an overall more accessible sound, ‘Constellation…‘ burns that idea to the ground and immediately unfolds as an apocalyptic, oppressive, massive, scathing inferno; particularly with the aforementioned title track, ‘I am the Wrath of Gods and the Desolation of the Earth‘, ‘More of Fire than Blood‘, ‘The Lucifer Effect‘ and the closer ‘Blood Eagles Carved on the Backs of Innocents‘ (yes, that’s half of the songs on the album).

    That said, they also embrace the catchiness of ‘Eschaton‘ with ‘So Be It‘ and ‘Satanarchrist‘, the thrashy groove of ‘Hell…‘ with ‘The Unbearable Filth of the Soul‘ and ‘Oil Upon the Sores of Lepers‘; and they continue to strategically place the characteristic melodic clean sections throughout (but less so than on ‘Hell…‘). Other than adding more industrial elements in later albums, ‘Constellation…‘ is really the first album that establishes the overall sound that we still hear today, and I would argue that from this point on there is much less deviation from this essential formula in all subsequent albums (except maybe the next in line, ‘Passion‘).

    ~

    PASSION (2011)

    If I had to choose a weakest Anaal Nathrakh album, this would be it, but it should be noted that the bar is set incredibly high. The crushing annihilation of ‘Constellation…‘ is significantly dialed back. Part of this is the mix, which is both not as sharp on the treble and not as deep with the bass, and seems just compressed to the mid from both directions. Part of it is the simple decrease in utter viciousness. Not that there isn’t any… in fact ‘Post Traumatic Stress Euphoria‘ is one of the most blistering tracks that they have, but shit, it’s less than two minutes long. The opener ‘Volenti Non Fit Iniuria‘ is another good one with classic buildup, aggression, and clean chorus. There’s several others that follow that classic pattern. Also of note is ‘Drug-Fucking Abomination‘, which is unique in that it’s the longest track they have and they take plenty of time to develop it with a long, groovy intro.

    But, half the songs are spattered with various issues. The guest vocals on ‘Tod Huetet Uebel‘ (sorry, Rainer Landfermann of Bethlehem fame) are annoying as fuck. ‘Locus of Damnation‘ is good but only one minute in length, basically a straight grind track. ‘Ashes Screaming Silence‘ is dangerously close to mediocre deathcore and is the first hint of a djent sound that will be utilized more effectively in later albums. The closer ‘Portrait of the Artist‘ is a little over one minute of ambience, a contribution from the hyperproductive Mories (Gnaw Their Tongues, Cloak of Altering, De Magia Veterum, etc. etc.).

    ~

    VANITAS (2012)

    Vanitas‘ generally returns to form on the mix and has multiple great, ferocious tracks that benefit from a blend of groove and melody with clean sections and industrial flourishes, which at this point has clearly become AN’s staple sound. The array of scorchers include ‘The Blood Dimmed Tide‘, ‘Forging Towards the Sunset‘, ‘In Coelo Quies…‘ and ‘Of Fire and Fucking Pigs‘. Tracks like ‘To Spite the Face‘, ‘Make Glorious the Embrace of Saturn‘, ‘Feeding the Beast‘, and ‘A Metaphor for the Dead‘ are a little more methodical, but no less spiteful. Of special note is the INSANELY catchy ‘Todos Somos Humanos‘ which really harkens back to the ‘Eschaton‘ era and sounds a lot like ‘Waiting for the Barbarians‘.

    Of other special note is the odd song in the bunch, ‘You Can’t Save Me So Stop Fucking Trying‘, which is solid in it’s hyperthrashy musical drive but which still can’t be saved (see what I did there?) from the somewhat cringy chorus which, uncoincidentally, consists of the title phrase being belted out in a nu-metal angsty sort of way.

    ~

    DESIDERATUM (2014)

    Very similar in sound to ‘Vanitas‘, but just a little bit more… more songs (by one), more aggressive, more cohesive, and without the very few weaknesses that ‘Vanitas‘ has. The intro industrial groove track ‘Acheronta Movebimus‘ sees yet another element incorporated into this AN chimera: djent style riffing. It also sets the listener up for the blistering assault that follows, starting with the opening scream of ‘Unleash‘ and continuing through the next three tracks, which all go straight for the throat in their own special way. The top track for me is probably ‘A Firm Foundation of Unyielding Despair‘, which starts out with a sort of staggering djenty industrial bit and gives way to one of the sickest riffs in the entire discography.

    Things ease up a bit with the title track ‘Desideratum‘ and ‘Sub Specie Aeterni‘ which are slightly thrashy with djentish sections, and they ease up a little more with the more melodic tracks ‘Idol‘ and ‘The Joystream‘, the second being particularly good, almost melancholic during the chorus despite the typical razor sharp riffing and vocal onslaught of the verse. The band must have some love for ‘The Joystream‘ because they saw fit to play it instead of the classic beast ‘Submission is for the Weak‘ last time I saw them (gonna admit, I was disappointed… but I don’t think that there is any song that can really replace ‘Submission…‘ TBH). ‘Rage and Red‘ sounds like the title suggests and features guest vocals (squealing and gasping) from Niklas Kvarforth (Shining).

    ~

    THE WHOLE OF THE LAW (2016)

    Just like ‘Desideratum‘ took ‘Vanitas‘ and turned it up a notch, much of the same can be said for ‘The Whole of the Law‘ in relation to ‘Desideratum‘: more fury, focus, more fire. At this point the fellas are reaching or even exceeding the intensity bar that was set by ‘Constellation…‘ some time ago. You want ferocity? Take your pick: ‘Depravity Favors the Bold‘ (potential favorite), ‘Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion‘, ‘So We Can Die Happy‘, ‘In Flagrante Delicto‘, and ‘And You Will Beg for Our Secrets‘ will all happily rip your face off with blatant vocal venom and musical blitzkrieg, all accentuated with well placed evil-as-fuck sounding industrial effects. Standout mentions for me are ‘On Being a Slave‘, which is a contender for favorite and my go-to track for people who equate metal with Metallica and who want to know what I think “real” metal sounds like. That intro..? The unfolding afterward..? Masterful.

    We Will Fucking Kill You‘ (featuring additional vocals by Andrew Knudsen of Empyrean Throne) is a song that got a lot of attention immediately after the release and seemed to be hailed as particularly brutal, but in all honesty it is one of the most tempered and methodical tracks on the album, bringing in a bit of that chugging djent aspect during the verse. ‘Extravaganza‘, also midpaced and djenty, boasts yet another new vocal technique somewhat similar to (but not quite as high as) the melodic highs of King Diamond… which might not be for everyone (including myself) but they are done tastefully and without being excessive. ‘Of Horror and the Black Shawls‘ is the vicious and epic favorite of many a metalhead of my acquaintance, and the album closes with amazing covers of Iron Maiden’s ‘Powerslave‘ and The Specials’ ‘Man at C & A‘.

    ~

    Well, that’s it until ‘A New Kind of Horror‘, which we should be blessed with sometime in the upcoming weeks. Until then, a personal Anaal Nathrakh setlist for any who are unfamiliar and who want to take the plunge: 20 songs, two favorite songs chosen from each of the 10 albums starting with ‘Codex…‘ (except only one taken from ‘When Fire…‘ and three from ‘Eschaton‘ to make up for it). Enjoy!

    1 – When Humanity is Cancer (The Codex Necro)
    2 – Submission is for the Weak (The Codex Necro)
    3 – Do Not Speak (Domine Non Es Dignus)
    4 – This Cannot Be The End (Domine Non Es Dignus)
    5 – Genesis of the Antichrist (When Fire…)
    6 – Between Piss and Shit We Are Born (Eschaton)
    7 – The Destroying Angel (Eschaton)
    8 – Waiting for the Barbarians (Eschaton)
    9 – The Final Absolution (Hell is Empty…)
    10 – Lama Sabachthani (Hell is Empty…)
    11 – In The Constellation of the Black Widow (In The Constellation…)
    12 – More of Fire Than Blood (In The Constellation…)
    13 – Volenti Non Fit Iniuria (Passion)
    14 – Drug-Fucking Abomination (Passion)
    15 – The Blood-Dimmed Tide (Vanitas)
    16 – Todos Somos Humanos (Vanitas)
    17 – Unleash (Desideratum)
    18 – A Firm Foundation of Unyielding Despair (Desideratum)
    19 – Depravity Favors the Bold (The Whole of the Law)
    20 – On Being A Slave (The Whole of the Law)

    …And here’s a handy Spotify playlist of all of the above, bar the ‘Codex…‘ tracks, as they aren’t currently on Spotify. Go get your YouTube on for those.

    ~

    Pre-order Anaal Nathrakh‘s ‘A New Kind of Horror‘ on CD and vinyl from Metal Blade Records here, or digitally from their own Bandcamp here.

    Support Anaal Nathrakh:

    ~

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    Alternate Dimensions – A Review of microcosmys and La Torture des Ténèbres’ ‘The Gods Themselves’

    Against stupidity… The Gods themselves… Contend in vain?

    ~

    Straight up: I appreciate surprises when it comes to music. I, like I’ll assume many of you, listen to a veritable avalanche of constant new shit that unfortunately often ends up falling on the wrong side of predictable. If something isn’t what I expected it grabs my attention all the more (and if it then proves to actually be good too, we’re onto a glorious winner), so when this split between Ukranian ambient/black metal duo microcosmys and Canadian enigmatic raw black metal entity La Torture des Ténèbres entitled ‘The Gods Themselves‘ proved itself to be packed to the brim with surprises, suffice to say I was more than satisfied in that aspect. But is it any good? Well, as the old adage goes… Let’s find out.

    First surprise: As the title may have already tipped you off, the entire split is dedicated to science fiction literature pioneer Isaac Asimov and is thematically tied together by his 1972 novel ‘The Gods Themselves’. If you haven’t read the book, it’s a dazzlingly intricate tale of parallel universes and alien beings, infinite energy, greed and the possible end of humanity. Heady stuff, and a fascinating choice of inspiration for a black metal release. Which brings us to the second surprise: without knowing exactly what form the blackened delights within would take, imagining a sci-fi theme paired with dense, cosmic blasting black metal isn’t too far of a logical leap. But lo; this is not the case, as both artists take far different approaches.

    As the first notes of microcosmys (stylised with lower case m) landed pleasurably upon my hearing-centres, the raw tones immediately piqued my curiosity. Turns out their side is a wonderfully adventurous, warped, lo-fi and totally instrumental trip with avant-garde tendencies in a vaguely similar ballpark to artists like Wolok. Each of their three tracks is dedicated to a member of the book’s central family unit of aliens: Odeen, Dua and Tritt, and each posesses it’s own like personality. ‘Odeen‘ is the Rational of the three, a driving force and the most straightforward of the triad. It’s a harder composition that paradoxically also wants to feel, as not least evidenced by the great dysphoric vibe that opens it up. ‘Dua‘ is the Emotional and is also where things start to get a little more out there as artfully placed alien synths create an engaging otherworldly tension, while final piece ‘Tritt‘ is the Parental and is where their science fiction induced mayhem comes to a head in intense and commanding fashion.

    Third surprise: I had actually heard La Torture des Ténèbres once before, just not made the connection when I read the name. A one woman black/noise project, sole conduit J. Kinney channeled one of the more soul-burning releases of last year with the dystopian ‘IV- Memoirs of a Machine Girl‘ and she is easily as mesmerising and violent here, if not even more so; her side of this split is comprised of two cuts from her 2016 album ‘Choirs of Emptiness‘ (which in turn is material that predates even her debut album). If you haven’t heard her work before, you really do need to and this is a great place to start: ‘Next Stop, Virgo City‘ wastes no time exploding into a glorious, howling, cacophonic maelstrom of abrasive-yet-melodic immensity close to what I imagine having the life force of the entire universe being forcefully pulled out through your brain must sound like.

    We Should Have Left It On The Country Station‘ continues in this fashion, and I’d love to be able to effectively dissect both tracks further but a) I’m still reeling, and b) I honestly don’t think they need to be. Words are ultimately redundant with a sound like this; this is pure primal sensation. You need to push play. It must be experienced. It’s like through hyper-magnifying the simplest cores of human emotions and fears she opens the floodgates on an unimaginable and uncontrollable power; so hopelessly monolithic it could in fact only be of the gods themselves. All you can do is surrender; throw your head back, arms out and allow yourself to be rent asunder as the rapture takes hold.

    Last surprise, which by now probably isn’t one at all: Is it good? No… It’s fucking great. Two very underappreciated artists with vastly different approaches and a power all their own, combining to produce something never before seen. A fitting metaphor for both worlds in the novel. Both enjoyable for their own reasons, and both worth your time. I’ll be picking up a copy of this. Hails.

    Out today, July 13th, through Xenoglossy Productions/Breathe Plastic Records.

    ~

    Purchase ‘The Gods Themselves‘ on cassette or digital from Xenoglossy Productions here, or from Breathe Plastic Records here.

    Support microcosmys:

    Support La Torture des Ténèbres:

    ~

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    Hymns to Death – A Review of Mortum’s ‘Eheieh Chaos’

    EHEIEH meaning:

    1. I am;

    2. I am becoming;

    3. The name of God.

    ~

    I’m going to take a shot in the dark here: You like Black Metal, right? You’ve definitely stumbled upon the wrong site if you don’t, but that’s not my point. What exactly do you like about it? When you really strip everything away, the layers that swathe and shape it, what lies at the dark core for you? For me at least and I’m sure for many of you, the USBM duo of Mystic Yautja and Ominous seem to have struck an arrow deep into that perfect core with their project Mortum.

    After honing their black art for over ten years, their second full-length ‘Eheieh Chaos’ was originally self released last October but is now seeing an appropriately limited cult release through the great Fólkvangr Records. Comprised of four new tracks and three re-recordings from older summonings you’d be forgiven for expecting some jarring difference in songwriting, but nope; the whole thing flows effortlessly along like the pitch black waters of the styx as it weaves its misanthropic web of mysticism.

    But anyway, how does it hit this ‘perfect core’, you ask? I’ll try to explain. The demonic pair open with ‘Scourge of Suffering’, which is one of the aforementioned re-recordings and was originally from their last release, 2015’s ‘Ascending Calamity’. If you’ve heard the original then the steps they’ve taken on this album will become immediately apparent. ‘Ascending Calamity’ was basically a demo quality recording. Aside from the great new introductory section of portentous monasterial chanting, here the sound has been beefed up again in all aspects. The guitars are a lot cleaner, allowing their diabolical tones to ring ever truer. Removing some of the rawness of their last release somewhat paradoxically leaves everything exposed; it bares the heart of the material, and that heart is pure black.

    For all the bells and whistles bands or artists throw in, black metal is ultimately about expressing a feeling or an ideal, a power. Mortum nail that power as simply as possible. Just check out the drumming on ‘An Elegaic Hymn to Death’; over the evolution of the composition it only does exactly what is needed, nothing more, nothing less. The guitars aren’t overly complicated and the melodies aren’t either but it’s perfectly effective; just like pronouncing the necessary magickal words of an incantation correctly, all the elements click together in exactly the right way to summon the intended arcane forces.

    That may be a half-cocked explanation but hopefully you catch my drift. This isn’t a ‘dazzling’ album. It’s not flashy. These guys aren’t breaking any molds. However, when it boils down to it, this arguably is the mold. They simply know how to make great black fucking metal… And I like it.

    Out tomorrow, 29th June, through Fólkvangr Records.

    ~

    Purchase Mortum‘s ‘Eheieh Chaos’ on CD or digital from their Bandcamp here, or on cassette from Fólkvangr Records here.

    Support Mortum:

    ~

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