The Sacred and the Profane, Part 2 – A Review of Graveir’s ‘Cenotaph’

And thus, the world was plunged into darkness once more. Picking up where we left off in our interview with frontman Gloom for the first part of our coverage of the Australian wraith’s upcoming new release ‘Cenotaph’, the time has come recite the necessary incantations and take a deeper look at this great release.

A little history for those who missed part one and can’t be bothered clicking back: the embryonic stirrings of Graveir began in 2009 and eventually blossomed over time into the full rotting flower we see today, resplendent in filth. Currently consisting of Pandora on bass (also doing time in the excellent Moon), skinsman XI (ex-Moon, ex-Dead River Runs Dry, ex-Vyrion and more), the twin obscenities of Emaciation (Arms of the Abyss, Defamer, Tower of Fire) and Alone on guitars plus Gloom (ex-The Silenced) tearing his throat to pieces in the name of art, ‘Cenotaph’ is the project’s fourth release overall and follows their superb end-of-year-list -making split with Mar Mortuum from 2017.

If their contribution to that split was superb, they’ve taken things another step further on this EP. As ‘Sanguine Inferno’ bursts to life in sorrowful dissonance and begins to traverse it’s darkened path, you’re struck by the deep melodious bleakness in their sound; throughout the course of the journey it’s as if the songs try to take flight but are weighted down by utter hopelessness. Which is a very good thing, a definite honing of their abilities and focus has taken place here and the EP reaches down into depths no sentient being should ever have to experience.

‘Dyatlov’ draws inspiration from the Dyatlov Pass Incident that occurred in an almost impassable region of Russia’s frozen Ural mountains in 1959. The bodies of nine ski hikers were found scattered and damaged by an “unknown compelling force” whilst apparently attempting to flee their tent (which had been destroyed from the inside), skulls and ribs smashed. One woman had her tongue cut out, some were dressed only in socks and undergarments in the freezing snow. The mystery of what took place that night remains unsolved to this day; and it’s a fitting theme for this track as it surges through the mire, its haunting misery punctuated by violent throes of horror. One of my favourites on the EP and one in which you realise how unusually prominent and integral to their sound the basswork is, as Pandora‘s sinister rumble and dreadful tones add menace and instill a real fear of the unknown. Very welcome and effective here, providing the sinewed muscle to XI‘s winding percussive backbone.

EP centrepiece ‘Whips’ continues in dysphoric form, piling the melancholia on even harder before it then flies into a tempestuous rage. Despite their relatively short run times I find the tracks deceptively epic and expansive in their progression, there’s a depth to each one that reveals itself further and further with each listen. On the latter half of ‘Droit De Seigneur’ Gloom and Emaciation‘s dual vocal assault is utterly terrifying, while Alone‘s guitars sound like that door tucked away in the darkest reaches of your mind that hides and locks away all the unspeakable things has been ripped from its hinges. Both great songs, but they save the best until last: ‘New Gods (Drowning the Sun)’.

It might just be because I’ve spent the most time with this particular track overall, but it fucking kills. The moods it taps into, the true despair and intensity; frontman Gloom said in our interview that it decribes “the building of the new order over the bones of the old, through bloodshed”, which is not only a fitting theme for this piece but also the EP as a whole. Graveir are building a new order for themselves here, perfecting their formula and crushing everything in their path in the process.

It may sound like I’m just blowing hyperbole but I honestly am quite partial to this release. There’s a raw charm to their morose melodic power and a sense of integrity to the sound and songs, you can tell they’ve been crafted with care. The overall production hits me just right and sounds like the audio equivalent of dead things reaching out to consume your flesh. Which will most likely be while you still breathe and remain totally cognizant of what is taking place, but… Not quite yet. No, this is the sound of that fleeting moment in between life and death, when you’re frozen and everything stretches into eternity, forcibly aware of your own fragile mortality and its impending end. Each time you visit this world it pulls you further and further down… And I haven’t even mentioned the fantastic Norot Art cover artwork yet. Just look at it.

A killer EP, one that spells big things for the impious lot. Vinyl and shirt pre-orders available now from the ultimate purveyors of misanthropic art down under, Impure Sounds. Releases on 20th April. Get keen.


Pre-order ‘Cenotaph’ on vinyl or digital from Impure Sounds here.

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Label Spotlight: Solar Asceticists Productions

~ Analogic Occult Editions for Transgressive and Nihilist Souls ~

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

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

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


Artist: Abyssal Vacuum

Year: 2018

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

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

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

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


Artist: Cendres

Year: 2017

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

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

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

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


Artist: Hyrgal

Year: 2017

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

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

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

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

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


Artist: Adherent

Year: 2017

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

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

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


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Abyssic Terror Ritual – A Review of Vessel Of Iniquity

If you’ve been reading this site for a while you’ve probably gathered that I’m a big fan of Sentient Ruin Laboratories. They pump out quality release after quality release, not only black metal but all sorts of harsh or experimental weirdness carefully selected to cater to all manner of wretched tastes. Easily my favourite label of last year and in news that will surprise no-one who’s been following their releases, they’ve started off 2018 in exactly the same fashion: already unleashed are two incredible finds, the previously mentioned on these pages Rotting Sky and the co-released with Xenoglossy Productions debut EP of vicious UK black/death/noise act Vessel Of Iniquity.

This slice of negative energy is the latest project from black noise architect A. White, who has been active since before the turn of the century with Thoraxembalmer and various other subterranean niceties.

This time, he’s harnessed the sheer horrifying power and pull of the void. When you think of the void, do you imagine immense calm, or mind-bending incomprehensible violence lashing you from all sides? Well, Vessel Of Iniquity is definitely the latter. Opener ‘Void of Existential Terror’ is exactly that; an all-out sonic assailment of inevitable destruction whipping your flesh to dust. It is fucking terrifying. Percussion teeters on the brink of becoming flat-out physical punishment as disembodied howls ride escalating waves of panic-inducing power electronics noise carnage; until it all collapses in on itself and you’re allowed to breathe for a brief, precious moment.

EP centrepiece ‘Where Even Nothing Is Something’ seems like it just wants to try out new and more disorienting ways to beat the shit out of you, switching it up for the latter half of the track to descend into chaos and become somehow even more intense than anything that’s come before. It’s the shortest track on offer at 3:40, which is a good thing, as aside from the piece itself never becoming tiresome I seriously doubt the tenuous grip we hold on reality would be able to withstand a longer assault.

The ultimate panel in the hellish triptych finally allows some respite from the torment. Everything slows to a relative crawl; twisted atmospherics, ritualistic drones and hypnotic patterns forming the necessary Thelemic sigils to evoke the Dweller In The Abyss… ‘Choronzon’. Once manifested, however… Well, you’ll see.

I bought this immediately after hearing it for the first time, but I’ll probably never end up receiving it. The way Sentient Ruin keeps digging up black gold I’ll be forever adding to my parcel and it will sit in pre-order limbo forever. Which is meant as the highest praise, and I guess nothing could be more fitting than for this wretched abomination of an EP to languish in stasis, not of this world yet infecting it by its very existence, spitting and howling in the fathomless void forever.

Don’t sleep on this. Out on tape as of three days ago through the Sentient Ruin / Xenoglossy Bandcamp pages, with vinyl pre-orders also available.


Purchase/pre-order ‘Vessel Of Iniquity’ digitally from Bandcamp HERE and on cassette or vinyl from Sentient Ruin Laboratories HERE or Xenoglossy Productions HERE.


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Satanath Records & Grimm Distribution Label Spotlight

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

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

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


Artist: Inhibitions

Year: 2018

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


Artist: Enoquian

Year: 2017

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

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

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

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


Artist: Garhelenth

Year: 2017

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


Artist: Hak-Ed Damm

Year: 2017

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

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

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


Artist: Solfernus

Year: 2017

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

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


Artist: Tyakrah

Year: 2017

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

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


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

Artist: Enoid

Year: 2017

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

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

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


Artist: Evil Nerfal

Year: 2018


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


Artist: Lucifer’s Dungeon

Year: 2017

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

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

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

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


Artist: Freiheit

Year: 2017

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

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

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


Artist: Cryostasium

Year: 2017

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

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

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


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Woods of Recollection – A Review of Darkenhöld’s ‘Memoria Sylvarum’

As you may have gathered if you perused the spotlight a few articles back, over the past year I’ve been rather partial to Fólkvangr Records and their selection of releases. And now I have another reason to add: their last few consecutive tapes of quality folk/pagan black metal have reignited my interest in a style of BM that has been sorely underrepresented in my listening habits of late. Next up on their release schedule is another that I’m absolutely keen on; French medieval warriors Darkenhöld‘s latest slab of swordplay and sorcery, ‘Memoria Sylvarum’.

Assembled in 2008 and plying their medieval inspired melodic black metal trade since, Darkenhöld is a band of five merry gents with a core songwriting group of three. They’ve put out three splits and three full-lengths so far, and latest effort ‘Memoria Sylvarum’ (literally translated from Latin as “Memory Forests”) continues their great run of sublime folk melodies entwining perfectly with second-wave black fury and touches of classic metal power. Bathory-esque passages are peppered throughout, great solos and choral vocals abound; there’s even some solid dungeon synth to help with the experience. And an experience it is; these demonic minstrels are apparently more ‘inspired’ by medieval themes when they compose rather than trying to recreate authentic middle-ages tunes, but the overall atmosphere they achieve is one hundred percent in the spirit of the times. Dark ruins, travellers on quests, epic legends, phantasmagoria… What more could you want?

The brief sound of footsteps from a traveller setting off on his forest journey is a fitting introduction as we set off on ours. First track ‘Sombre Val’ has everything that makes this album great and is a fine display of their songwriting talent, before the more mid paced thrashy/traditional gallop of ‘La Chevauchée Des Esprits De Jadis’ (‘The Ride of the Spirits of Long Ago’) kicks in. This track is a blast and really showcases their compositional nous, the juxtaposition and seamless transitions between the more sombre sections with the ripping thrash moments effortlessly paint a vibrant and enrapturing picture, culminating in a sublime epic folk passage. 

On ‘Ruines Scellées En La Vieille Forêt’ (‘Sealed Ruins in the Old Forest’) the nefarious tremolo picked black returns, drawing down the spirits of the dead. ‘A L’orée De L’escalier Sylvestre’ (‘At the Edge of the Sylvester Staircase’ is deep, emotive and engaging with hints of menace and wonder in equal amounts. It’s a truly fantastic song replete with gentle choral vocals and may just affect you on a spiritual level. I could listen to the epic last two minutes of this all day; I’ve scarcely heard the sword-and-sorcery spirit of the age melded as perfectly with black metal as this.

‘La Grotte De La Chèvre D’or’ (‘The Cave of the Golden Goat’) is a welcome and artful dungeon-synth interlude; my original notes from my first listen-through only say “Hlidskjalf but better”, so take from that what you will. ‘Sous La Voûte De Chênes’ (‘Under The Vault Of Oaks’) continues with deep folk integrity… and those fucking riffs. Outstanding. A gorgeous acoustic passage transports you away to times long gone before the harsh guitars build upon the foundation laid; something these bards do very well is build upon feelings, following stirring passage with stirring passage until you become lost in their world, wandering through darkened woods. ‘Clameur Des Falaises’ (‘Clamor Cliffs’) brings more rolling thrashy riffs under ethereal synth that gives way to black blasting, the second-wave influence blazing bright. It can be one of the most dark and intense tracks on the album yet still feels uplifting or inspiring; you’re not putting that sword down just yet, traveller. ‘Errances (Lueur Des Sources Oubliées)’ (‘Wanderings – Glimmer Of Forgotten Sources)’ continues the descent with atonal darkness giving way to a more introspective vibe; while the choral vocals return to wonderful effect. Final track ‘Présence Des Orbes’ (‘Presence Of Orbs’) opens with whispering, haunted vibes then brings it home in fantastic and flute-filled fashion; one of the most dynamic tracks of the lot and a fine way to have you skipping back to the start of the album once the final notes fade.

The Claudine Vrac artwork is lush and evocative (and looks fucking great on their merch). The mix on the album is spot on, such an eclectic variety of tones that somehow work perfectly as a beautiful cohesive whole. The press release says Darkenhöld is “…one of those bands that, on paper at least, simply doesn’t make sense” and I’m inclined to agree; in practice however the trio of Aboth, Aldébaran and Cervantes have skillfully woven a rich, enrapturing journey through the dark ages that will definitely have you returning again and again. I will be. Keep ’em coming, Fólkvangr; and Darkenhöld: well done you glorious bastards. Onwards!


Pre-order a limited Metallic gold cassette of ‘Memoria Sylvarum’ with black ink and hand-numbered, double sided 3-panel sleeve in a crystal clear case from Fólkvangr Records here, and a digital or CD copy from Darkenhöld’s official Bandcamp here.

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Anguished – A Review of Deinonychus’ ‘Ode to Acts of Murder, Dystopia and Suicide’.

After ten long years, Dutch apokalyptic suicidal artists Deinonychus are returning from sepulchural silence with a brand new full-length ‘Ode to Acts of Murder, Dystopia and Suicide’. And I’m going to be honest here: I haven’t heard them since another ten years before that. 

When I did hear them however, I was a fan. Back around 1996 I discovered Marco Kehren’s then-solo (with John Bartels on keys) effort ‘The Weeping of A Thousand Years‘, and although dripping with Vampyric romanticism and more funeral doom influenced than anything Strid or Bethlehem were doing, it was still one of the most depressive black flavours I’d tasted to that point. Marco’s anguished howl was something else, I enjoyed the album at the time (and still have a Cacophonous Records first press of it) but due to the Internet not really being a huge thing yet and my relative isolation at the bottom of the globe in the land down under, Deinonychus never returned to my radar in the years since… Until a week or two ago, when I nearly fell out of my chair to see them in my inbox. Swearing I wouldn’t listen to anything they’ve released in the years between so I can have a stark experience of how far they’ve come since the heady days of ’96 (and a mildly unique angle for this review), I dove in without hesitation and have now been getting utterly destroyed by this thing for two weeks straight. 

As one would expect, the Deinonychus of today is a different beast. Long gone (I assume) are the tears-of-blood-on-lace lamentations of a tortured immortal swathed in mist; in its place is a more real, crushing agony. Deinonychus has come a long way, and I like it.

Pressing play on first track ‘Life Taker’, everything bursts immediately into a miserable, slithering doom. This only continues for a minute before a pause seemingly intended to allow a brief ponderance on the gravity of the situation hangs for a perilous moment; then, the despair truly begins. Your time has run out. Death is here. A grandiose, agonising death with angels weeping from the heavens… And your own demons dragging you to your own hell. One of the blackest tracks on the album, it’s a suitable heralding of the hell that awaits and it’s great to hear that these days the guitars are given full power and the synths are toned down to a tasteful level. 

Second track ‘For This I Silence You’ is epic droning doom with an almost regal air of mourning, while on third offering and teaser single ‘The Weak Have Taken The Earth’ Marco’s voice reaches all new depths of depravity and almost sounds pleading. The best vocals have real feeling as opposed to someone just trying to imitate something (or someone), and when he hits his stride, you’ll barely find a voice filled with as much genuine desperation, torment and self-loathing in all of extreme metal.

Consisting of a fantastic simple riff and keyboard atmospherics that allow the wretchedness of his voice to truly shine, it’s a solid choice for lead single, but if you think you’ve seen the depths of misery to which this album gets… Guess again. The sheer agony and torment pulsing through following track ‘Buried Under the Frangipanis’ will have you seriously considering which object nearest you would be the quickest to end it all with. In fact, I wholeheartedly recommend removing yourself from the proximity of any sharp instruments for the remainder of this album, for your own personal safety.

On ‘Dead Horse’ you’d swear Marco is almost tearing his own face off with his bare hands in sheer anguish, while the ascending triplets of ‘Dusk’ bring back a more melancholy atmosphere; an almost welcome turn of events as by this point you’re already left numb and hollow, a shell of your former self. The penultimate ‘There Is No Eden’ continues in morose fashion, before closer ‘Silhouette’ returns to a full black assault of suffering and we end with Marco veritably bleeding out through your speakers.

I know it’s not a stretch to think an artist would push and improve their sound over twenty years, but this album still surprised the hell out of me. Everything sounds great with a polished but not overdone production lending the perfect weight to the instrumentation. Marco’s guitar tone is absolutely crushing, while Steve Wolz (also ex-Bethlehem, with Marco) puts in a destructive performance on the drums and sounds devastating. The album has such a negative vaccum it’s almost impossible to resist and simply oozes darkness; it exceeded my expectations in every way. 

A quarter of a century since the project’s inception and Deinonychus have regained a fan. It is a true pleasure being miserable listening to this.

Out December 1st, CD pre-orders up now with vinyl forthcoming.


Pre-order ‘Ode to Acts of Murder, Dystopia and Suicide’ on CD at a special discounted price from My Kingdom Music here.

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Black Plague Miasma – A Review of GORT’s ‘A Morte Ad Mortem’

You know when you just need a hit of Black Metal? When every fibre of your being just craves that raw, anti-life darkness and indescribable feeling that only emanates from the malignant spirit of our favourite genre? Well, Gort are exactly what you need. The Italians’ sound is the pure feeling of black metal distilled to its rotten core; raw and ugly yet powerful, dragging the deepest depths of humanity’s torment.

All of which is the perfect sound for the theme behind their latest EP. Their tenth release overall since their impious inception in 2002, ‘A Morte Ad Mortem’ (“From Death to Death”) is based on The Black Plague of the 1300s but with a twist: the tale is told from the point of view of the plague itself, as a metaphysical entity. I’ve seen many artists cover the topic but none insofar as I can remember have attacked it from this unique point of view, which makes me wish I had received a lyric sheet with the sound files as the concept is quite intriguing and the lyrics could be fascinating. Guess I’ll have to purchase the album to find out. 

The music itself has the black blood of 1993 coursing through its veins and effortlessly encapsulates all the best parts of the ’90s; opening salvo ‘Black Glorification’ alone has everything you want from good black metal in each of its varied sections. Pressing play, either the sounds of hell or agonised screams of burning plague victims assail your ears before the cursed and somber melodies emanating from Wolf’s guitar begin to paint a wretched picture that perfectly represents the misery and destruction of the topic at hand. Fresh cult initiate Illness more than proves himself as his throat-rending vocals vomit bile and filth, doing an admirable job of giving voice to death and decay throughout the entirety of each of the EP’s four tracks. 

Preview track ‘Nigra Imperatrix’ is a solid example of what is on offer within; one of the more straightforward tracks of the lot with a driving, frenetic pulse courtesy of longtime sticksman Einherjar Ingvar, providing backbone as he grabs you by the throat with a refreshingly raw drum sound. I’m a particular fan of how this sound comes into play in one of the final sections of album closer ‘The Last Flight of the Crow’, where amidst a swaying rhythm the snare takes on the properties of a tolling death bell, sonorously calling out the corpses of the dead.

Released on axe wielder Wolf’s own label Lupus Niger Prod and Distro and adorned with killer, highly detailed artwork courtesy of the excellent Roberto Toderico Art, this is black metal with integrity. No standout singles, no album of the year, this release isn’t about that shit. Just true, uncompromising black metal from its cold, dark, hidden heart. Incredibly satisfying. Hails.


Pre-order ‘A Morte Ad Mortem’ on CD from Lupus Niger Prod and Distro HERE. Not available digitally.

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Fólkvangr Records Pagan Black Metal Mini-Spotlight

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


Artist: Forefather

Year: 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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


Artist: Lóstregos

Year: 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Lucid Dreams in Savage Streets – A Review and Interview With Fell Ruin

Everyone loves a good story. But what if the story didn’t make sense? It sounded as if it did at first. At a cursory glance everything seems in order; but the closer you listen, the more things seem a little off. Words and sentences don’t seem to fit. Things seem to lose focus. The story drives on, but now something is definitely wrong. You aren’t following at all, are you losing your mind? Everything seemed normal. Why doesn’t this make sense? A feeling of dread creeps in. Is the storyteller insane, or are you? What’s happening? You begin to panic. Beads of sweat form. You have to get out of here, you can’t keep listening. What are they even saying? Why are they smiling? Their eyes seem dead. Your head feels like it’s unravelling. This isn’t normal. This isn’t happening. Run. RUN.

And so begins the musical journey that is US avant-garde four piece Fell Ruin’s harrowing debut opus ‘To the Concrete Drifts’. Released on March 17th through I, Voidhanger Records and Graven Earth, it follows a narrative and there are recurring motifs such as the gorgeous acoustic sections that lull you into a false sense of security; but that’s just a well calculated ruse to intensify the helplessness with which you tumble into its nightmare. The more you get lost in its intricacies, the more you realise it’s a staggering piece of art. 

Its five tracks begin with ‘Respire’, an intro of sorrowful and foreboding acoustic guitar before the terror begins to stir in second track ‘The Lucid Shell (Rite of Fertile Sand Coasts)’ with a savage, crawling doom rasping and grinding towards you. From then on the tale takes on a life of its own, subversively challenging your senses and nerve as it organically mutates from dystopian blackened doom to thrash to blistering pure black and even post metal, all within the same song. Brian Sheehan’s commanding, haunted and often sinister vocals drive proceedings; when he roars “I SUCCUMB” in third track ‘Spy Fiction Folds in Ready Streets’ you can almost literally feel yourself being swallowed by waves of concrete, shifting and crashing as the cityscape collapses and undulates, succumbing to the psychedelic horror.

Special mention should also be made to Jeff McMullen’s unique basswork and tone, winding around in fantastic interplay with Rob Radtke’s portentous guitar and adding a whole new level uncomfortableness, confusion and misery to proceedings as August Krueger expertly gives the songs what they need with dazzling progressive skinsmanship.

The whole thing works so well together, each listen gets better and better. Before you know it it’s dragging the pit of your stomach through the floor as it weaves a mesmerising spell, leaving you hopelessly ensnared by an unnerving and unhinged world you’ll be unsure of how you arrived at… and will never be able to catch your bearings enough to escape from.

I’ll be spending a lot more time getting lost in this album, I highly recommend you do too. In the meantime, check out the supremely unsettling official video for ‘Spy Fiction Folds in Ready Streets’ above; then read on below as we chat to vocalist Brian about all things Fell Ruin.


Hi Brian, I hope everything is well in the world of Fell Ruin. You recently released your crushing debut album, ‘To the Concrete Drifts’. You guys pleased with the reception it’s been getting?

– Better than we could have hoped. Glad to finally have it out there.

The songs are absolutely mammoth, kaleidoscopic slabs of blight and avant-garde decay. What was the creative process like? Does someone handle the bulk of the writing or is it more of a democratic process?

– Writing is a collaborative process. Everyone brings ideas to the table, and we refine as a group. Listening back to rough recordings from the previous rehearsal for further elaboration. Everyone plays off each other pretty naturally.

The album title is a partial line from one of the songs: “To the Concrete Drifts, I Succumb”. All of the esoteric lyrics conjure up some great mental imagery, but can you explain why you chose that particular phrase to represent the album as a whole?

– Naming things has and will always be the bane of my (our) existence. Scouring over the lyrics, To The Concrete Drifts fit the album as a whole, ringing true to the synopsis of the story.

You guys have a unique and discombobulating sonic pallette, raw and immediate yet oddly disconnected and surreal. I find it occasionally akin to being on acid in a burning building, sitting surrounded by death as everything crashes in slow motion around you. How did recording go, did everything turn out exactly as you envisioned?

– Perfect! That’s relatively close to the atmosphere we sought to create. Recording, for myself anyways, is always the most trying yet rewarding part of making music. With that said, tracking this album was the most comfortable and confident I have been with my performance to date. I think as perfectionists, we all hear things later down the road we wish would’ve been done differently. Collectively, we have long come to peace with such sentiments and remain proud of what we’ve created.

Is there any particular piece of art, music or otherwise, that inspired your sound and/or themes on this release?

– We all have our influences/inspirations. Individually and collectively. Without naming dozens of bands, I would say we are all simply into a little of (almost) everything. Speaking for myself and lyrical content, I’ve always been into the raconteurial approach. Grand story arcs that span the album. To The Concrete Drifts was heavily influenced by pieces such as El Topo, The Dark Tower (specifically “The Gunslinger”), Begotten, The Seventh Seal, and a plethora of others. I don’t really get any inspiration from any lyricists in the metal realm.

The CD is out on I, Voidhanger Records; one of my personal favourite labels. How did that come about?

– Same here. Once we received the mastered version back in the fall, I inquired with a few labels that seemed like a suitable fit. Luciano got back immediately and enthusiastically expressed interest in collaborating. Same thing with Rachel of Graven Earth (whom released the cassette version). Both have been a pleasure to work with, and the finished products exceed expectations.

The suitably nightmare-inducing video for “Spy Fiction Folds in Ready Streets” also dropped recently. Can you tell us a little about that and the ideas represented in the video?

– Having grown up on old, black and white horror/art films, it always seemed natural to pursue similar aesthetics and themes. Including elements from the lyrics as well as the album artwork without painting too specific of a picture is difficult. Surreal horror that isn’t in the straight forward commonplace, allowing the spectator to come to his/her own conclusions. In this case, we are more than pleased with the result. As for specifics, I will let the viewer discern.

Were you there for the shoot? How was that experience, and how much creative input did you have throughout the process?

It was a collaborative endeavor between Nick Holland of Diamond Dead Media, myself and a few close friends. I wanted to make something that made me feel the same way I felt watching Begotten for the first time, without just ripping it off. Sampling bits and pieces from the lyrics, crafting masks and costumes, it was an elaborate endeavor that took weeks of planning and two days of shooting on location.

The album artwork is great, ties in fantastically with the video. And it was done by yourself (Legerdemain Art)! Did you have any prior ideas/direction for it all?

– Thanks! It’s been a luxury handling the visual interpretations of the music. I had a vague idea going into it, but it came down to experimenting with multiple elements and combining them. Once the main image was conceived, the additional art came together pretty naturally.

It’s been two years since your also-excellent EP ‘Devices’, which I felt was slightly more straightforward black metal influenced. This one seems like you’ve really let rip. What would you say the biggest change has been from the EP to the album?

– I feel like our songwriting has matured as a whole. Although, two of the tracks on T.T.C.D. were written before some of the songs on Devices. Refined and relentlessly revisited before making it to the recording.

‘Fell Ruin’ strikes me as a very emblematic name. What’s the meaning behind it?

– Again, naming things has never come easy. We completed the recording of Devices before agreeing on the moniker. ‘Fell’ in the old literary sense (savage, violent, cruel). ‘Ruin’ in its common use (decay, dissolution). Inciting the notion of empowerment through turmoil.

You’ve been around a few years now. How did Fell Ruin come into existence, and why does it continue to exist?

– Just three friends from various musical endeavors conspiring to do something new. In the fall of 2013, August, Jeff and Rob started writing songs. I tried out for vocals in the spring of 2014 and it’s been us four ever since. It will continue until we feel it loses its luster.

What’s the Black Metal scene like in Michigan, are there any other bands from the area that deserve more attention?

– There are some great bands, but very few black metal bands. We ourselves never really considered this band to be black metal though the influences are undoubtedly there. To name drop a few local friends and peers: IsenblåstDark WinterTemple of VoidMammonEndlingSunlight’s BaneHer Dark Host

And finally, what comes next? What lies in the future of Fell Ruin?

– Writing for our next venture is already well underway. More live shows in support of the album are being planned, but nothing we can share just yet.

Great news, looking forward to seeing the horror and wonder the next album brings. Thanks again for your time!


Purchase the excellent debut album on cassette from Graven Earth Records here and on CD from I, Voidhanger Records here.

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The Infinite Dark – A Review and Interview With Synodic

“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.”  – Carl Sagan

Those who have been reading BMD for a while may be familiar with the name Synodic; the debut single ‘Large Magellanic Cloud’ by US duo Imber and Myrdin Cerphas was featured back in the heady days of Bandcamp Misanthropy Volume 1. Since then I’ve followed the project with interest and remained in contact, and now I’ve been extremely privileged to hear the full-length realisation of their vision and speak with conceptual creator, lyricist and vocalist Imber about the massive ‘Infinite Presence In A Violent Universe”, finally unleashed upon the galaxy at midnight last night.

But first, a look at the album itself. Space themed black metal projects are close to becoming dime-a-dozen these days; write some spacey riffs, slap on some psychedelic sounds, add vague lyrics and Bob’s your astronaut. Straight off the bat, with their debut Synodic surpass the majority of those projects by means of one key ingredient: a genuine passion for astronomy and the universe at large. A great deal of attention is paid to the scientific content of the lyrics and everything from the sound and production to the huge, expansive songs seems carefully planned to give the listener the most authentic cosmic experience still skillfully balanced with the raw black metal ethos and aesthetic. It’s violent and illuminating, light and dark, crushingly solid and eerily ethereal all at once. 

Introductory track ‘Descending On Titan’ sucessfully sets up the journey ahead, implanting images of an unfathomably huge object moving through space before the titular second track explodes as though you’re witnessing the big bang itself from afar. Think if Anaal Nathrakh were floating on a distant space shuttle instead of puking in the gutters of Birmingham and you’re along the right track; it’s one of the more intense songs on the record. It’s here you’re introduced to the unique production too, which eschews just enough of the total rawness of low-fi black metal for a more modern, distant and intricate effect. The guitars sound like planetary noise, a dense yet distant roar of raw sound while mechanical drums not often suited to black metal click and whir with savage precision like intricate parts of a spacecraft gliding effortlessly through the black void; shimmering cymbal crashes echoing throughout immensity. 

The fury of the song eases up for a moment to introduce us to another feature of the album; a synth interlude with a sound that isn’t a million miles away from the delicate cosmic tones of Limbonic Art’s ‘In Abhorrence Dementia’ introduction but which seems far more fitting here. These synths make a welcome return for the start of the absolutely epic third track; the lead-in single ‘Large Magellanic Cloud’. 

With the dust settled from the fury of the title track, now the stillness and vastness of the cosmos dawns upon you and you’re in awe of its magnitude. You’re floating in space, its wonders reaching out into infinity. It’s an epic, trance-like song, dense and heavy. Named after a galaxy that orbits our Milky Way once every 1500 million years, you know that feeling you get when your mind grasps the enormity of a fact like that? When you imagine yourself, an inconsequential mote of dust, drifting through the endless, terrifying yet beautiful nothingness of space? That feeling is this track. Magnificent, cold and awe inspiring.

The album continues with the two-parter of tracks four and five, ‘Cosmic Cataclysm NGC 6357’ and the instrumental ‘Cosmic Perspective’. The vibes are still sky high and Imber’s vocals taking a breather only allows pause to fully take in the sheer overwhelming vastness of it all. Speaking of which, Imber shrieks and rasps with the best of them and matches the tone of the songs with detached fury, her voice a vortex with it’s own gravitational pull; a vocal black hole.

I won’t say too much about the last two tracks so there’s still uncharted planes for the interstellar traveller to discover, just that the riffs in both are absolutely killer and the closer contains one of the catchiest riff/vocal combinations I’ve heard in aeons.

Overall, it’s a truly excellent debut that knows its subject matter and nails it better than some artists with ten times the experience. The songs are massive, expansive and really given time to breathe; the production is just right and doesn’t fall into the all-too-common trap of being too gaudy or bombastic, keeping its black metal roots intact and deliciously prominent. One of my favourite underground releases of late; I’ll be honestly surprised if this doesn’t get snapped up for a physical release by an ace label very soon. 

So without further ado, pick up the album from the above link (all funds go towards a physical release) then grab some headphones, go outside, look at the stars and float off into the atmosphere. Or alternatively, give it a stream as you read our chat with vocalist Imber below to delve further into its measureless mysteries.


Hails Imber! I hope you’re well. Your debut album ‘Infinite Presence In A Violent Universe’ has just been released, how does it feel to finally have it unleashed upon the world?

– As someone who has been very passionate about music my whole life it feels really good to release something that I am part of. Not just to be a listener but to be part of the creation itself.

Synodic is you and Myrdin Cerphas, who I believe is your partner, something you don’t often see in black metal. What’s it like working artistically with your significant other, do the creative fires burn brighter from your bond?

– It works well for us because we know and understand each other so well. When I presented the idea and concept to him he was able to translate that into music that was just how I felt it should be. He was able to create the right vibe and emotion it’s supposed to invoke. He is gifted in that way and we work well together.

It’s quite a strong debut, especially considering you take care of all aspects of the project yourselves. What roles do each of you play within Synodic? Do you offer any feedback on each other’s work or simply trust in each other’s ability and interpretation of the vision?

– A little bit of both. He writes the music and does all the sound engineering while I do all the vocals and lyrics. He always asks for my opinion and feedback on what he creates and vice versa. We take that into consideration and make something we both are happy as a result.

It’s been a couple of months since the excellent and trance-like first single ‘Large Magellanic Cloud’ was released. How long did the album take to complete? How was the recording experience?

– It took about 3 months from start to finish and since we record at home we can do it on our time so if we want to spend hours and hours creating and recording in a couple of days and then take a few days off we can. Recording at home with Myrdin on our own time is comfortable and it’s been a great experience because it’s something we do together creating music we are passionate about.

Synodic describes itself as ‘Cosmic USBM portraying the heavy, dark elements of the universe through music’. What is it about these universe that you find so inspiring, and why do you think these themes translate so well into black metal?

– There is nothing more violent, dark, and massive than the cosmos so it suits black metal perfectly. We are next to nothing in the grand scheme of things.

The lyrics of the album are quite unique; there are many space themed projects out there but this is the first one I’ve come across based largely on actual science. It really seems like you know your stuff and this is a genuine interest of yours. Have you had this project planned out for a while?

– I have always loved astronomy and the reality of the universe is so much more awe-inspiring than any fantasy or supernatural human creation in my opinion. Combining astronomy and black metal, my two favorite things, is really special for me. After listening to a few cosmic themed black metal albums last year we thought it would be perfect just do it in our own way using the science in a poetic way for the lyrical content.

One of the tracks contains a fitting sample of a Carl Sagan quote. What’s the significance of the quote, and what does it and Carl Sagan mean to this project?

– Carl Sagan is someone I admire and idolize really. He wanted the world to acknowledge our place in the universe and not fall victim to dogma. When you open your eyes and mind to the reality of the universe around you it is the most liberating feeling and he helped catalyze that during his time.

The instrumental introductory track ‘Descending On Titan’ has some interesting sounds in there. Can you tell us a little about this track, is it just something you knocked up in studio?

– We used actual sample sounds from the Huygens space probe that landed on Saturn’s moon Titan in 2005. It was part of the Cassini mission to Saturn. Sounds of the probe entering the atmosphere and the landing, so it was appropriate to name the track “Descending on Titan”.

Music-wise, are there any particular bands/artists that have had a profound influence on either you or Myrdin’s vocal or playing style?

– My biggest influences range from early black metal artists such as Burzum to the newer artists like Mare Cognitum. Myrdin draws influence from everything as early as 60’s rock to a lot of early black metal and newer black metal as well.

You’re self-releasing at the moment. Any plans to shop around for labels or would you prefer to remain independent for now?

– We would gladly sign to a label that is right for Synodic if the opportunity presents itself.

Are there any plans for Synodic to one day become a live entity? Is performing with session members something you’d be interested in?

– There are no plans for us to be performing live any time soon but who knows what the future will hold if we meet the right people.

What do you hope the listener takes home from this interstellar journey?

– An appreciation for what we create and hopefully they become interested in doing their own research into cosmos.

Do you guys have any other active projects we should check out?

– Myrdin has a black metal project called Revelation None that is a completely different animal from Synodic. You can look Revelation None up on FacebookBandcamp, and most streaming services such as Spotify.

So what comes next; what does the universe have in store for Synodic? Are you thinking about a follow up release yet?

– We hope to release an EP this fall so follow us and we’ll keep everyone updated.

Thanks again for talking to us, congratulations on a stellar debut! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

– We’d just like to thank you for the interview and review of the album. We appreciate everyone that has been there for us through the process and all those that will support us going forward.


Purchase ‘Infinite Presence In A Violent Universe’ on Bandcamp here.

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