Unfailing – An Interview With Départe

Black metal is an ever-changing beast; shifting, writhing and evolving, but always with the same cold heart. With last year’s stunning album ‘Failure, Subside’ on Season Of Mist, Tasmania’s Départe have made it their own: its cold heart is surrounded by swathes of gorgeous emotive post-metal and howling lashes of dissonant death, creating something both harrowing, uplifting, and wholly unique.

This also nestles them in quite nicely to the incredible and varied line up for Direct Touring‘s fifth birthday celebration, ‘Direct Underground Fest’: Marduk, MGŁA, Ulcerate, Gorguts and Départe. Vocalist/guitarist Sam Dishington was kind enough to sit down amidst preparations for the Friday night Sydney show to answer a few questions.

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Hey Sam! Thanks so much for your time. We’ll start with the shows you’re doing this weekend, Direct Underground Fest: Marduk, Gorguts, MGLA, Ulcerate and Departé. That’s the greatest line-up Australia has seen in years! How did that come about?

– It really is a massive line-up isn’t it? We are all very excited, and I’d be lying if I said we weren’t also pretty nervous – to be sharing the stage with some of the best in the business is not only a huge honour, but it’s a pretty big responsibility! We heard about the tour in its very early stages, back when it was only one or two bands. We eagerly expressed our interest in being a part of it, and thankfully David at Direct Touring found us to be a suitable support act.

You’ve toured with Ulcerate before. Which of the other bands are you personally the most excited to share a stage with?

– We have played with Ulcerate many times since we started this band, they are good friends of ours and we are incredibly thankful to be able to share the stage with them again. We also played with Gorguts once before in Melbourne back in 2014, and that was an amazing and humbling experience. I know everyone in the band is extremely excited to see Mgła, given that we are all huge fans of their work and we never thought we’d get to see them play, let alone in Australia. To top all that off, being given the honour of supporting someone as long-standing and influential as Marduk is very exciting for us.

Your last album “Failure, Subside” was an absolutely crushing, emotional beast that simply demanded its inclusion on many end of year ‘best of’ lists, my own included. How do you feel about the overwhelmingly positive reaction to it?

– Releasing ‘Failure, Subside’ to such positive response has been a very exciting and humbling experience for us. We didn’t know if anyone was going to like it, we worked so hard to make it happen, it took a very long time, and it’s a very personal album, so even handing it over to the label when it was finished was terrifying – at least for me. I remember starting to get really anxious when I heard about it being sent out to various websites and magazines for review, I felt like I wasn’t ready to know if people thought it was good or not. But, when the first track was premiered, and all the positive reviews started coming in, it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. The support and encouragement we’ve received from this release has been a real blessing to all of us.

For an album so bleak and dissonant, the fascinating flipside of it is that it packs an incredible emotional weight, helped in no small way by the inclusion of your clean vocals. They’re quite frankly great. Do they come naturally to you, or is it something you’ve had to develop?

– Thank you! For some reason, I’ve always liked the idea of clean vocals in metal, though it’s not always particularly well executed. I used to be really awful at it, as is evidenced on the first album by Separatist, the band I used to do vocals for. Regardless, I stuck with it. Over the years my voice developed into something far more mature, and when Départe came to be my voice just happened to sit well in this style. As we developed the band’s sound we knew that that kind of emotive clean singing in our genre would be a little divisive, but as with everything we do in this band, we’re just doing what we love, and we loved that sound. Thankfully, it wound up being a fairly substantial point of difference for us, which has proven beneficial.

It seems to be a very introspective, cathartic album; and from a technical standpoint I’m a huge fan of the sound. Can you shed some light on the writing and recording process?

– I’m really glad you like the sound, we are incredibly happy with how the production turned out. Half Moon Productions, the folks that mixed the album, is composed of a friend of ours, Jamie Marinos, and his business partner Lance Prenc. They specialize in more of the modern metalcore/deathcore/djent style mixes – in fact, if I’m not wrong, I think we were the first band in the realms of black/death/post metal that they’d ever mixed. But, we had heard their previous work, and we decided they were the right fit for the job, especially based on their ability to dial in a really thick, heavy bass tone. So it was something of a gamble, but we really believe it paid off and that they nailed it. Drums were recorded at Red Planet Recording Studio in Hobart by a friend of ours, Nic White, and everything else was recorded in my bedroom, with assistance once again from Nic, who helped out with mic placement and allowed us to borrow some of his gear.

There seems to be a fair amount of great black/blackened Tasmanian bands vs. population. Do you reckon there’s truth to the thought that being amidst the isolated forest peaks at the bottom of the world fuels inspiration?

– Yes and no. I think being in such a small community that’s somewhat isolated from the rest of the country has the potential to cultivate particular styles and movements, but at the same time with advances in technology and connectivity we’re really not that isolated any more. 

Recently you guys have been doing a bit of charity work, raising funds for White Ribbon, which I reckon is fantastic. Is that something you’ll continue to do in the future?

– We plan to continue with that sort of thing, yes. It’s important to all of us that this band amount to more than just music and lyrics. People are starting to pay attention to us, and we all believe that in that situation, even though we’re still relatively new, it’s our responsibility to try to make a difference to the community around us. It’s all well and good for us to play music because we love it, and we do love it, but it’s far more fulfilling to know that we are able to reach beyond ourselves to make someone else’s life better through our words and our actions. We hope that our actions will encourage more people to do the same, not necessarily for the same causes that we stand for, but to find something that they’re passionate about, something that affects their community, their loved ones, and make a stand for change.

I’d imagine you guys have a wide range of influences and great listening tastes, I think it may have been you Sam that got me on to Hexis in an article I read once. Any other ace recommendations of artists you’ve been particularly inspired by, or have just been jamming lately that everyone should check out?

– Ah yes, I remember that article, that would have been the Bandcamp Bargain Bin list I contributed to. As far as bands that have particularly inspired me, and probably shaped what Départe became over the years, I’d have to say Celeste, Isis, Rosetta (we got our name from one of their early songs), Altar of Plagues, Deathspell Omega, Plebeian Grandstand, and Ulcerate. I’ve also always been a big fan of Deftones, they are a huge influence on my writing, and they have been ever since White Pony came out. As far as stuff I’ve been jamming lately, right now I am listening to ‘A Perpetual Descent’ by Greytomb, which is excellent. They’re good friends of mine, and it’s great being able to listen to and enjoy something so much that your friends have created. In addition to that, lately I’ve been listening to Dodecahedron, Ulsect, Varaha, Old Solar, Skáphe, The Drowned God, Zhrine, Kollwitz, Gevurah, Pianos Become The Teeth and, just to shake things up, the score to The Revenant.

Being that you guys are at the forefront of the current metamorphosis of the archetypal black metal sound twisting from its origins and assimilating other influences to devastating effect, what’s your opinion of the current state of the genre?

– I think this genre has so much potential, as is evidenced by the vast amounts of different bands moving taking the style in all sorts of different directions. There’s always trends, as with any genre, but above all I really believe the genre is growing, shifting, and evolving. It’s very exciting.

What’s in the forseeable future for the band after this run of shows? Thinking about the next album yet?

– We’re working on getting back overseas hopefully in the near future. Aside from that, I’m sure there will be a few more Australian shows before too long, though nothing confirmed yet. We actually plan to start work on writing for the next album fairly soon after Direct Underground Fest. We want to try some new things, new techniques, and get better at working together as a band as far as writing is concerned, so we are allowing ourselves a great deal of time to get used to that.

Thanks again guys, can’t wait to see you decimate this weekend! Anything else you’d like to add?

– Not really mate, we’re very much looking forward to seeing everyone at these shows on the weekend!

You really should catch Départe and the rest of the excellent line up at either The Factory Theatre Sydney on Friday 17th, or The Corner Hotel Melbourne on Saturday 18th. Tickets still available from http://directtouring.oztix.com.au/

Support Départe: 

Donate to White Ribbon: https://www.whiteribbon.org.au

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The Nurturing Soil – An Interview With Beorn’s Hall

There’s a lot to be said for the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, and the same holds true for an album. When you first lay eyes on ‘Estuary’, the second full-length offering from US folk black metal warriors Beorn’s Hall, you may be forgiven for initially and inadvertedly being a little over-presumptuous: With the glorious painted cover art and weapons-laden logo vaguely reminiscent of Caladan Brood plus a Tolkien inspired project name to boot, thinking you were going to be in for a typically grandiose and bombastic slab of epic black metal is not an entirely outlandish conclusion to have arrived at.

Until, that is, you push play and the duo of Vulcan and Rognvaldr draw you into their richly textured world. Friends for life but formed as Beorn’s Hall in 2016 to create music inspired by their home of New Hampshire, the pair do paint with an “epic” base but utilise a palette and techniques that encompass much more. Irresistible shades of Bathory and stirring traditional metal/rock strains are prevalent throughout a great album that you’ll increasingly find packed with enjoyable surprises, and that’s also one of its major strengths: it is a great album. Each track serves as another unique step on the journey, a veritable cornucopia of styles and tones all tied together with consummate skill as a coherent whole, a melting pot of everything from Candlemass worship to the introspective Americana of ‘I Know You, Rider’.

Eschewing an overly polished production for a more authentic sound, there’s a raw, immediate life to proceedings. This thing sounds amazing, visceral yet austere all at once. The sound distorts at times but that only makes it better and comes across as the offspring of your favourite ’70s recordings and the kvltest of delicious lo-fi ’90s black and death atmospheres. I couldn’t get enough of it, so when the opportunity arose to ask a few questions of the gentlemen behind it all I had no real option but to jump at the chance.

Releasing this very day through the excellent Fólkvangr Records and Naturmacht Productions, there are no gilded thrones or fantastic beasts to be found here. This is real pagan life: spirit and survival, revelry and battle, blood and soil. So, check out the official clip for the title track ‘Estuary’, filmed in the misty marshes of New Hampshire and hands down my favourite track on the album with its irrepressible earworm riff and incredible energy; then read on as we speak to Vulcan and Rognvaldr about all things Beorn’s Hall. Hails.

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Greetings Vulcan and Rognvaldr, sincerest thanks for speaking with us! I hope you are both well. Your excellent second album ‘Estuary’ is coming soon through Naturmacht Productions and Fólkvangr Records. Are you happy with it overall, and in your words, what can people expect to hear from it?

VULCAN: Hello! Thanks for taking the time to interview us. We are very happy with this album, we feel it’s an improvement from ‘Mountain Hymns’ in every way.

ROGNVALDR: We went for a bit of a different production as you can tell. On ‘Mountain Hymns’ we did things very naturally, the drums and rhythm guitar were recorded live and we used a totally flat EQ on the whole album. I’m very pleased with how things came out this time. I was listening to a lot of
viking-era Bathory while writing the riffs, so people can expect a bigger more epic sound. We just wanted to create something more dynamic.

The album is heavily inspired by where you hail from: “The True Vinland” (the area of coastal North America explored by Norse Vikings), New Hampshire. For those of us who have never had the pleasure of visiting, what is it like over there and why is it such a source of inspiration to you?

V: I’ve always loved living in New Hampshire. We grew up in an area where the mountains and the ocean are about an hour drive from one another so it’s easy to find so much inspiration for this style of music, it is pretty natural.

R: Cheap booze and smokes, low taxes. What’s not to love?

The project was only formed in 2016, relatively recently considering you have your second full-length ready to go. How did you guys first meet and why did you decide to start Beorn’s Hall?

R: We actually met at age 3 in play school. We started playing death metal and grindcore together in 2003 but always talked about starting a black metal band. We both became very busy musically after high school so it wasn’t in the cards until 2016.

The album is gloriously adorned with a stunning Albert Bierstadt painting, whereas I believe the debut album’s cover art was painted by one of you. Both covers are spectacular, but why the decision to go with this particular piece of art this time?

V: That particular piece is something we discussed using as an album cover for years and we felt like we created something that would be fitting for it.

R: This painting just rules all around! It is just too awesome not to use. It is true I do oil paintings of this nature as well and painted the ‘Hymns’ cover. However, I am nowhere near this level. Maybe in a few more years I will be. It’s pretty funny that a lot of people think these paintings take eons to create but they only take a little less than an hour. If you watch Bill Alexander paint, he does the whole thing in about half an hour.

I love the sound overall, but especially the absolutely killer drums. Apparently you use a rather special kit, can you tell us a little about that? Were any other noteworthy instruments or recording techniques used on the album?

V: Yes! I have a 1970’s chrome over wood Slingerland kit that we used on this album. Nothing records quite like it. We figured an old school drum set should be used to record something so heavily influenced by the old school.

R: The bass was run clean which we believe sits better in the mix for the style. The guitar rhythms were dual tracked with a 57 offset on the speaker cone and a condenser about 6ft away at ear level for the atmosphere. The D’Angelico 12 string was run direct in with condenser off the sound hole. Keys were done on an early 90s shit Casio that runs on D batteries. Actually the same set of batteries from ‘Mountain Hymns’ last year haha.

Like your debut album ‘Mountain Hymns’, the whole thing could have been created in and ripped straight from the ’90s. Where was the album produced, did you guys take care of it all yourselves?

R: The album was recorded here at our studio “The Hall”. Vulcan and I have been in the recording game for 15 years now. Ever since we started making music together we have shared the same mindset which is, “Why pay someone else? We can do a great job by ourselves.” We know exactly what it should sound like. It would be a huge pain in the ass and waste of time to have someone else try to do it. We’ve spent the past 2 years building The Hall into a professional recording space. We’ve actually recorded a bunch of other bands too and offer our services to anyone. Just no shitty deathcore.

What was the writing process like this time around? Do you find each other easy to work with?

R: We’ve known each other for a long time and get along like brothers. 99% of the time we get along great and once in a while we want to strangle each other, just a little bit haha. Musically speaking, we are both on the same page and we both have the same idea for Beorn’s Hall. There is actually little communication about the music, Vulcan just knows what kind of drums would work over the riffs. Sometimes Vulcan will tell me “Get drunker, you need to channel your inner Fenriz for this vocal!” So I will. Sometimes I tell him “play this part a bit slower, like an evil Phil Rudd” and he will.

V: Typically we start with a base song that Rognvaldr has crafted,we’ll demo out the guitars and drums and then just go from there. Years of playing together has made for an extremely streamlined and easy writing process.

This will be your second release on Naturmacht Productions, and the first where Fólkvangr Records is involved. What are your thoughts on both labels, are you happy with the support?

V: Both labels have been absolute pleasures to work with. We owe a great deal of gratitude to Robert from Naturmacht as he was and still is a crucial element for this band and its beginnings. Folkvangr is great as well, I’m blown away by what Mark has accomplished in just a year. Needless to say we plan on sticking with these guys for the foreseeable future.

R: Robert from Naturmacht is the coolest guy. We seem to understand each other very well! He does an amazing job with the label and will even help us with designs when we become frustrated with things like artwork and layouts. Folkvanger has treated us very well too! Mark seems like a super cool guy and someone we would hang out and spin records with. It’s really nice to have someone who is committed to releasing cassettes only. I love cassettes and am looking forward to holding a copy of Estuary!

Listening through the myriad of different styles on the album, you guys clearly don’t listen to just black metal. Which audial delights have tickled your eardrums of late, and was there anything in particular that influenced you during the writing of ‘Estuary’?

R: Well metal music did come from hard rock so it’s only natural for us to pick up things from bands like Deep Purple, Rainbow, maybe even some NWOBHM and early speed metal. I like a lot of Allman Brothers and Dead too, so sometimes those mixolydian and major key modes come out which isn’t a bad thing. However, it must be done correctly or else you get this really weak Disneyland sounding black metal which I can’t get into. I think we achieved a really unique jam style segment on the end of “Dark Wood-Black Marsh”; it’s powerful yet a bit uplifting thanks to some Mixo modes. Hail Tony Iommi, Hail Dickey Betts!

V: Between the two us we have a large range of stuff we listen to but we tend to be a bit selective as to what to draw from for Beorn’s Hall. I feel when a band tries to represent every influence of every member it tends to become unfocused. We take our ‘extra’ influences from neo-folk, traditional metal, 70’s hard/progressive rock and blues.

The title track is such a stormer I almost threw myself out of the car when I heard it for the first time. From the incredibly physical riff that grips you full force, to the switch up into blistering black metal and that perfectly timed sword unsheathing… Magic. During the creative process, did you feel that magic and think “we’re on to something here”?

V: Thanks for the kind words. It’s my personal favorite song on the album. When I first heard Rognvaldr play that main riff I knew it was a choice slab of Candlemass-y goodness (we both fucking love Candlemass).

R: I am glad you like this song but please do not throw yourself from a moving vehicle! We would prefer you throw an enemy from the vehicle instead. Anyway, that main riff is a tribute to all my favorite riffs. Think of the riffs from Autopsy – Torn from the Womb, Candlemass – Well of Souls, Isengard – Naglfar etc… I thought “Beorn needs a riff like these” These are the best types of riffs, mid-paced fist bangers that are evil as hell. The end of the song is inspired by bands like Blasphemy or Swallowed from Finland, maybe some old Beherit and things like that.

The final album track ‘Roads Go On Forever’ begins perfectly with a recitation of a great poem by Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken“. An interesting inclusion, are either of you big poetry buffs?

R: We just thought it was cool as Robert Frost is a New Hampshire native. His poetry is incredible and heavily inspired by New Hampshire so it works perfectly.

V: It was kind of a last minute idea that worked very well.

Over the years, themes of history and heritage have been a great wellspring of inspiration for Black Metal. What are your thoughts on why they suit the style so well?

V: Black Metal has always evoked a certain old and dreary feeling to me as with many other lovers of the genre. History itself is for the most part very dark and depressing, so the two just go hand in hand.

I’ve seen you use the NHBM tag: New Hampshire Black Metal. What is the black metal scene like in New Hampshire? Any other great NHBM bands we should pay attention to?

R: The NHBM scene is great and the reason we use this label is because we are all friends that support each others bands and projects. The scene is strong and we have so many great bands. Its a small state with a lot of talented people. Here’s some bands we recommend from our great state: Malacath, Ancestral Shadows, Hraesvelgr, Northern. Actually Northern just wrapped up their new recording with us at The Hall Studios. “Desolate Ways to Ultima Thule” is set for release by Moribund Records sometime in March!

V: Kind of off topic but there are also some great death metal bands around here as well such as: Solium Fatalis, Excrecor, Angel Morgue and more!

Have you ever played any live shows with this project, and if not, is it something you’d ever be interested in?

R: We get asked this a lot. Sorry, Beorn’s Hall will never play live unless we get $10,000 haha.

V: And a trip to Europe! 🙂

And finally: What does the future hold for Beorn’s Hall? Have you started writing for the third album yet?

V: We plan on releasing one full album a year and to do some splits and other small releases in between those as well.

R: The future holds one solid pagan BM release per year. We have a blast doing Beorn’s Hall! As far as writing goes, I am always writing. I am always inspired and I am glad to have a drummer and vocalist who works as efficiently as I do. People think I am rushing but I’m not. I just like to work fast.

Thanks again for your time! Looking forward to the full release. Anything else you’d like to add?

R and V: Thanks for the interview! Cheers!

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Purchase ‘Estuary’ on CD and vinyl from Naturmacht Productions here, and on cassette from Fólkvangr Records here.

Support Beorn’s Hall:

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Support Solar Asceticists Productions:

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

The Sacred and the Profane – An Interview With Graveir

Graveir‘s black star is on the rise. Fresh off the back of contributing to one of the greatest splits of 2017, the Australian horde of Gloom, Alone, Emaciated, XI and Pandora have announced a new EP about to seep out and spread its insidious influence across the earth: the mighty ‘Cenotaph’.

It’s available for pre-order as we speak and I’ll be taking a more in-depth look into its wretched majesty when the time arises, but for now we can feast our ears upon the stellar teaser track ‘New Gods (Drowning the Sun)’. The horrifyingly dissonant guitars and depraved multi-pronged vocal assault contained within head up what I believe to be their strongest recorded work to date; and I’m extremely pleased to say I was fortunate enough to sit down with throatsman Gloom to discuss the track, the EP itself and all things Graveir. So have a listen at the link below, and read on.

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Greetings Gloom, sincerest thanks for speaking to us. First up, a little history: What inspired the creation of Graveir, and what is its purpose?

– The genesis of Graveir really started in 2009 as a vehicle for me to write the kind of music I was interested in. It’s not for everyone so I’d found myself playing in things more out of friendship. There was always compromise rather than a full creative expression. There was no real timeline on it, just a collection of riffs which ended up being the genesis of the songs on the demo.

I think it was around 2012 I met XI and found we were pretty much on the same wavelength. Being a particularly driven individual, once I showed him what I had been working on that was enough to set things on the path. Pretty quickly we’d demoed the songs. Admittedly these were pretty rudimentary given my lack of technical ability and preparation at the time but these helped us to form the remainder of the lineup in late 2013. I am pleased to say it has progressed from those humble beginnings much further than I would ever have expected.

As for its purpose, I am generally interested in the interplay between the sacred and the profane so sonically I wanted something that had a definite sense of melody but also felt slightly unsettling at the same time. At least to my ears, t’s the friction between the two that helps create the atmosphere in our music.

You have a new EP on the way, titled ‘Cenotaph’. How do you feel about it, did everything turn out exactly as planned? What was the creative process like?

– I think we will never be 100% satisfied with anything, no matter how good it is. This is healthy as prevents stagnation but it becomes important to know when to let something go and release it. People will ultimately make of it what they will. I am comfortable with the release – which is as close to happy as you should ever realistically be.

The recording was definitely a positive experience. We recorded locally so there wasn’t any time pressures and all of our equipment was available to us. Ean Redman, who recorded and mixed the album is someone we know on a personal level so the recording environment was very good. Tonally I think we got some good sounds from the instruments.

The writing process itself is fairly painless, new material comes easily to us. As for how it comes together, someone will demo guitars and guide drums for a song and send it around for initial opinions and if it is received well we take it to rehearsal and adjust it until we have a finished version and I’ll add lyrics to it from there.

The dictionary defines a ‘Cenotaph’ as: “a monument, sometimes in the form of a tomb, to a person or group of persons buried elsewhere”. Why did you select this as the title?

– It came from the lyrics for New Gods (Drowning the Sun) and seemed fitting for the overall tone of the album and the artwork. In a more literal sense it does serve as somewhat of a monument between where we have come from and to where things are heading.

The first teaser track is the aforementioned ‘New Gods (Drowning the Sun)’ and in my opinion is another huge step forward from everything you’ve done before, oozing with a bleak and unsettling menace. Can you describe the themes and intentions behind the track?

– Definitely – the lyrics centre around the cycle of domination and violence that come with change. More specifically changing of religion within a society. What we often refer to as mythology is really an insulting way of denigrating what was previously the dominant religion of a society i.e. “That was all make believe, what I am telling you now is the one and only truth.”. The song describes the building of the new order over the bones of the old through bloodshed.

Listening through from your last full-length ‘Iconostasis‘ and the great 2017 split with Mar Mortuum you can really hear the refinement of certain aspects of your sound, such as the development of a mutidimensional vocal assault that proves to be devastatingly effective. What would you say the biggest progression or development has been for Graveir since ‘Iconostasis’?

– There are three key things I’d point to as having the biggest impact on our sound to date.

The first thing that happened is that after the demo I was able to share more of the songwriting duties and this has continued to increase over time. We try to make sure everyone has had some songwriting contribution on all our releases but the composition of this has shifted. For example on Iconostasis if one of us wrote a song we would normally write both guitar parts before sending it to everyone. Now we will often write one guitar track then send it to either Alone or Emaciation to complete which often adds a different perspective to things.

The second thing is improving as musicians over time. This has enabled us to stretch our songwriting and technical abilities. Listening to a demo from 2009 versus today this becomes very apparent. This one is especially true for me.

Finally, Emaciation adding additional vocals has really helped add some additional depth into the songs both live and on the newer material.

There will also be a track on the EP titled ‘Dyatlov’. I’m curious, because if I’m correct this is something that has always fascinated me: Would this be referring to the Dyatlov Pass Incident? If so, can you tell us a little about why you chose to write about it?

– You are correct, it is referring to the events that occurred in Dyatlov Pass. The title was initially just a working title, which will often change once I actually start writing lyrics. However after doing a bit more reading and research I found it a particularly fascinating topic.

What makes the Dyatlov Pass Incident a compelling case may be more to do with the level of development of forensic science as well as the propensity for secrecy on the part of the Soviet government.

If I had to take my best guess I think it was something of a military nature, perhaps air mines or some other weapon capable of generating significant concussive force. The interest for me lyrically was the thought of the isolation and the unforeseen terror that would have followed.

The EP will be adorned with evocative cover artwork by incredible occult artist Norot Art. How did this come about, were you big fans of his work? How does the resulting image tie in with the themes of the EP?

– Essentially just by being fans of his artwork. From there we made contact and he agreed to do the artwork. He has done a stellar job and we are extremely happy with the end result. Our approach when contacting artists is to give them a listen to the songs, lyrics and titles to enable them to draw out what resonates with them and draw something based off that. We give little to no instruction or guidance beyond that. So, given that it draws from the source material I think it fits the overarching themes on the EP (which are essentially meditations on the nature of death, suffering and change) quite well.

‘Cenotaph’ will see the continuation of your recent partnership with the great underground Australian label Impure Sounds. How has it been to work with them?

– No complaints whatsoever. Graveir isn’t a money-making venture so any notions to that effect are easily dispensed of so long as you aren’t being exploited. What then becomes important is finding someone who will show as much care for the release as we have in making it and that on a personal level we are dealing with people we respect, like and trust.

We know the EP is in good hands so it is a largely stress-free process for us. Impure Sounds don’t run a massive release schedule so can give each release they put out care and attention it deserves. We have nothing but positive things to say about the label and would gladly work with them again.

I know you’ve been playing a few live shows of late, have you aired any of the new material and was it received well?

– This is always a balancing act as you don’t want to play all the new songs months ahead of the EP release otherwise there isn’t all that much excitement around the new material for the audience. Recent shows we’ve done one or two songs just to test them out in a live setting and to add a something unexpected to the setlist.

We did do a set of the EP material late last year at an event hosted by our friends the Brewditos. Given the excellent quality of the beer on offer and their support over the past few years we thought we should repay the favour with something special. Hard to say how much of it was the beer but the reception was very positive.

For the uninitiated, what can one expect from a Graveir live ritual?

– Great question – I think you can expect to hear a close representation of what is on the recordings. For the most part we don’t record anything we can’t re-create live and we avoid using anything overly processed so I think this translates well in the live setting only with a bit more of a feral energy to it. Outside of that you should expect a sufficiently bleak atmosphere.

Australia has a killer black metal scene. Are there any sorely underrated Australian bands that you believe deserve more widespread attention?

– Completely agree with that sentiment. I think there are some bands that are getting some well-deserved recognition at the moment such as Départe and Greytomb which I hope continues as they have both produced some excellent releases.

On the other side of the equation there are some excellent bands who I think are due a bit more than they might currently have. Ignis Gehenna, Convulsing, Siberian Hell Sounds, Norse, Bleakwood, Snorri, Ploughshare, Mar Mortuum, Host and Dødknell have all put out great releases in the past year or two. I’d also be interested in a follow up from Dead River Runs Dry as I thoroughly enjoyed the first album. I will miss Funeral Moon who were great and were over all too soon.

When can we expect the full EP to drop? Will it be on vinyl, CD, cassette?

– Release date will be April 20th and will be vinyl and digital only at this stage. CDs may come later but I think it depends on the level of interest.

Sincerest thanks for your time, Gloom. Very keen to hear the rest of the EP. Any last words?

– Thank you for the well-thought out questions, it has been a pleasure answering them. I hope I have answered them sufficiently. I will be interested to hear what you think of the rest of the EP once it is out.

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

Support Graveir:

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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.

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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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Pray For Chaos – An Interview with Solfernus

Solfernus are back. Not only with their first album in twelve years, but also back from last rearing their devilish heads in our Sathanas Records label spotlight a few weeks ago. I enjoyed the Czech black thrash horde’s brand of melodic and diabolical aggression while creating that article, so when I got the opportunity to interview Igor Hubík (also of a little band you may have heard of called Root) about their ripping latest album ‘Neoantichrist’, I jumped at the chance to delve into the mind behind the mayhem.

From the nuclear-bomb energy of tracks like ‘Between Two Deaths’ to the anthemic storytelling vibe of ‘Once Upon A Time In The East’, the album is a stirring listen; so check out the tracks scattered throughout and buckle in as Black Metal legend Igor takes us through all things Solfernus and more.

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Hello Igor! Sincerest thanks for speaking with us. First up, a question I’m sure you’ve been asked many times: it’s been twelve years since the last Solfernus offering… What took so long?

– Yeah, nobody asks the music thing as the first question but twelve years long pause between albums. Let’s fix it little bit. SOLFERNUS was active another three seasons after the debut album’s release. We played shows and made two videoclips, answered some interviews, appeared also in music TV channel… We started to work on the second album in 2008 but never finished it because of our own inability. Our drummer left the band etc… I wrote this new album during 2015 so the whole break between albums is pretty long but between band’s activities shorter but you’re right, still long too 😉

The album is titled ‘Neoantichrist’. It’s probably not a reference to the new coming of Solfernus, returned to destroy Christianity and bring hell on Earth, but it may very well be! What is the meaning behind the title?

– This title, or lets say a word composition, is such a hint at mainstream medias. So many people are able to follow and mainly repeat stupid thoughts and words which they read in newspaper or watch in TV, actually online too. Media is a new and dangerous gun for human being. We still hear and read also a “labeling” of people by journalists or politics and these idiots scream out perhaps every day these words with added “neo”. So we can learn from the press that there exist neomarxists, neoliberals, neonazis, neobolsheviks… Guess what?! So we have “Neoantichrist”! This lyrics is describing my view of actual downtowns’ consuming life absolutely dependent on medias, commercials, false celebrities but also hundreds years innocent people following tendency – a religion.


The release as a whole is quite dynamic and multifaceted, with many different tempos and atmospheres swirling throughout. Who handled songwriting duties this time around?

– I wrote all songs and lyrics and can say that it’s really inspiring and thrilling process. I wrote several songs in the past but usually not lyrics. That’s why I decided to make it with this album. We worked quite hard on vocals and you can hear the pronunciation of each single word or a type which is not a rule in this genre.

The album explores many themes and has some great lyrics, but I’d like to ask about one track in particular: What’s the story behind ‘Once Upon A Time In The East’, does it reference a particular event?

– “Once Upon A Time In The East” is the story about a young German soldier fighting during the World War II at Russian freezing winter battlefield. It is not about a particular event but simply inspired by confessions of those military heroes who survived this horrible insanity. When watching these documentaries, I was always quite shocked not only with unbelievable camera shots but also by old veterans who cried while they were talking about their memories. I must add that this is not so popular and often discussed theme ’cause people sometimes don’t want to see specific facts and parts of mankind’s history.

You’re also in longstanding Black Metal institution Root, who have been at it since way back in 1987. What originally drew you personally to explore the depths of black metal, and do you still feel the same?

– Can’t remember what exactly drew me into this genre but I guess it went step by step, maybe album by album? I still like this kind of art, you can recognize it from “Neoantichrist” songs’ collection and as you have mentioned, also according to my activities in that longstanding Black Metal institution. Anyway, this signification sounds killer man! We must use it for some product’s description 😉

This time around you’ve also brought over Paul from Root on drums, which I would imagine you are very happy with. What was the story behind this?

– I had in mind more drummers for this album because originally these songs should be a part of the brand new nameless project. I asked him as the first one to record drums for a bit wilder music than we play with ROOT. He was very into this stuff and recommended also the Ch-Records Studio for the final record.


While you can still hear some similarities, in comparison to the epic current feel of Root, Solfernus definitely plays with more chaos and aggression, like it wants to kick your fucking ass. Is it easy to put yourself in a different head-space when you write for each project? Do you approach each time you write with clear intent, or does the music just flow naturally and end up how it will?

– Both bands are quite different from each other with regard to the musical direction and lyrics. I miss more catchy and brutal music in ROOT, that’s why SOLFERNUS album was realized. Wanna to create fast, riffing and pulsing sharp compositions with screaming vocals and refrains. ROOT is going by its original way but I want to make songs like “Glorifired” or “My Aurorea” too. The composing of fresh songs goes naturally, no problem 😉

I believe you have recently filmed a video for the song ‘Mistresserpent’. Can you tell us a little about this? When will we get to see it?

– It took two days of filming right shots and we are going to make cuts and some another details this month. I think that the final videoclip could be online in Spring and can promise that you will see also beautiful women in “Mistresserpent”…

The album is out now on Satanath Records; how has it been to work with them?

– Current cooperation between Satanath Records and SOLFERNUS is going well. We are trying to promote “Neoantichrist” album as much as possible and the label did amazing job with CD itself, it looks more than perfect. They have also good digital distribution and the whole album is available through Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp and other important web sites. 

Why did you originally decide to form Solfernus, and do those reasons still hold true on this latest release?

– Never thought about “why” man, probably some need to create black metal music along with those comrades who participate in that line-up. It was meant to be a special side project of musicians coming from their bands who joined forces in SOLFERNUS. Now we are just continuing with this art and philosophy on “Neoantichrist” album and I guess you can hear that our direction is still right.

Having completed a new album after so much time passing, how do you feel when listening to the older Solfernus works?

– We can feel that all three SOLFERNUS records are musically and lyrically connected with main points and I must add we still love to listen the very first EP “Diabolic Phenomenon” as well as “Hysteria in Coma” album.

And finally: Is this the full return of Solfernus? What’s next for the band?

– Due to a strange career of the band, we should not promise any concrete plans. There are some ideas which we would like to realize but instead of promises, let’s wait for real acts. The future will show everything else as we know from the past.  


Thanks for your time Igor! Any final words?


– Thanx for the opportunity to present SOLFERNUS to the readers of the webzine with such a fantastic name! We live Black Metal Daily!


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Purchase ‘Neoantichrist’ digitally and on CD from Satanath Records HERE, on iTunes HERE, on Google Play HERE or listen on Spotify HERE.

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Support SOLFERNUS:

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LISTCRUSH – Part Two: Albums

Wrapping up the two part LISTCRUSH series of the releases that resonated and affected us the most throughout 2017, here’s the top 40 full-length albums. A little late, but last year was absolutely monolithic for Black Metal in general so what was originally going to be a top 20 stretched out to 40, and could have easily continued to 100. As in Part One, every single one of these albums and artists is highly recommended for your full attention. Enjoy.

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~ TOP 40 ALBUMS OF 2017 ~

40: KROLOK – ‘Flying Above Ancient Ruins’ (Hexencave Prod.)

A Mortiis-style introduction echoes down cobwebbed halls before bursting into the moonlit sounds of the best era of Scandinavian hell. This Slovakian vampyric horde effortlessly nailed it.

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39: HAUNTING DEPTHS – ‘Death’s Sacred Fire’ (Goatowarex)

No names, no country of origin, no information available for the project at all; just great fucking black metal.

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38: BEZMIR – ‘Void’ (Werewolf Promotion)

One of Ukranian dark ambient maestro Severoth‘s many solo projects, now he channels the violence and terror of the cosmic void. Whenever I needed a quick fix of blistering, uncompromising savagery I always went straight to this beast. 

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37: EVILFEAST – ‘Elegies of the Stellar Wind’ (Eisenwald)

This Polish gem crept silently in right at the death of the year and enchanted me with its ethereal, cold grimness. Magic.

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36: WHOREDOM RIFE – ‘Dommedagskvad’ (Terratur Possessions)

Norwegian Black Metal is alive and well. The fucking riffs in this one should be illegal.

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35: NIGHTBRINGER – ‘Terra Damnata’ (Season Of Mist)

Another go-to album if I needed a fix of viciousness. Majestic, sophisticated, devotional; and not the only entry on this list from these US mystics.

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34: ALMYRKVI – ‘Umbra’ (Ván Records)

My favourite cosmic black/death album of the year, the debut album from these Icelandic wizards was everything I hoped for and more.

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33: THROANE – ‘Plus Une Maine a Mordre’ (Debemur Morti)

A deep, deep album. Nobody creates art like Dehn Sora. Avant-garde madness, a bleeding wound that will not heal.

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32: ENTHEOGEN – ‘Without Veil, Nor Self’ (Fallen Empire Records, Mystískaos)

Alex Poole‘s second entry into these lists. As I said in a previous article, this “will split your mind off into several simultaneous perceptual tangents allowing reality to become both an entirely new proposition and completely inconsequential all at once”. Mental.

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31: HAVUKRUUNU – ‘Kelle Surut Soi’ (Naturmacht Productions)

I was a big fan of the Finns previous effort ‘Havulinnaan’ so when I first heard ‘Kelle Surut Soi’ I was a little disappointed by the differences, as they’d seemingly toned down a large part of what I enjoyed about them. Then I actually opened my ears, and holy shit.

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30: THE CLEARING PATH – ‘Watershed Between Firmament and the Realm of Hyperborea’ (I, Voidhanger Records)

Italian prodigy Gabriele Gramaglia pushing everything into the stratosphere. Black Metal taken to almost incomprehensible new heights. Could have been higher up the list on a different day.

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29: ISRATHOUM – ‘Channeling Death and Devil’ (Altare Productions)

Easily should have landed on more lists. As I wrote once before: “Five years was worth the wait; they’ve created a perilous album with an undeniable power that will bend you to its will. A trek down black metal’s many dark and winding paths; a sinister, ritualistic experience infused with dangerous occultism and coiled savagery, eyeing you with disdain and contempt, knowing it could tear out your throat with a mere flick of its wrist.” Evil.

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28: PERVERTED CEREMONY – ‘Sabbat of Behazaël’ (Nuclear War Now! Productions)

Sheer ritualistic abomination; frenzied, fetid and foul. I felt like I needed a shower after every listen. Beautiful.

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27: URN – ‘The Burning’ (Iron Bonehead Productions) 

Utterly blasphemic blackthrash from the Finns. The energy and sheer traditional headbang-ability of this is off the chain.

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26: INCONCESSUS LUX LUCIS – ‘The Crowning Quietus’ (I, Voidhanger Records, Invictus Productions)

Black Metal that shreds? Yes. This album fucking rips. Glorious satanic power and might.

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25: BESTIA ARCANA – Holókauston (Dark Descent Records)

The Nightbringer gents pulled off a spectacular coup releasing this and ‘Terra Damnata’ in the same year. An apocalyptic conjuration to rival anything any of them have ever done, including Akhlys. This tore open the earth.

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24: KRALLICE – ‘Go Be Forgotten’ (Hathenter Records)

My favourite thing they’ve done in a minute, by a long shot. The production, the art; the inhuman musical abilities. This is one that will never be forgotten. 

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23: FACELESS ENTITY – ‘In Via ad Nusquam’ (Nebular Carcinoma Records, Altare Productions, The Throat)

Forever mourning the dead and the living. Ominous, obscure atmosphere; I listened to a shitload of raw black this year and this was among the best.

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22: FROZEN GRAVES – ‘Frozen Graves’ (Kuunpalvelus)

Finland showing everyone how it’s done; pure black metal. Probably would have been higher on the list if it’d dropped earlier than November and I’d been able to spend more time with it. 

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21: SVARTSYN – ‘In Death’ (Agonia Records) 

Sweden’s finest annihilate once again. Misanthropic fury that will slice you in half with no mercy.

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20: VOID PRAYER – ‘Stillbirth from the Psychotic Void’ (The Throat, Goatowarex)

This raw, disassociative dysphoria still haunts my dreams.

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19: MORK – ‘Eremittens Dal’ (Peaceville Records)

When these men hit their stride nobody can beat them for capturing the essence of ’90s Norway. It isn’t mere imitation; it’s a channeling of powerful natural spirit continuing in the current age. The carriers of the torch for True Norwegian Black Metal.

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18: VOËMMR – ‘Nox Maledictvs’ (Signal Rex)

Recorded over two nights in an abandoned farmhouse, you can almost feel the spirits of the dead crackling in the air as these Portuguese enigmas coax otherworldly atmospheres from their instruments.

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17: AU-DESSUS – ‘End of Chapter’ (Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions)

The only post black album to make my list this year, this is monumental. Listen to it. Now.

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16: SELBST – ‘Selbst’ (Sun & Moon Records)

The Venezuelans killed it with top notch composition, thunderous sound and one overall devastating album. Very well done.

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15: URARV – ‘Aurum’ (Svart Records)

The man with the best voice in Norwegian Black Metal returns with another outstanding project. Bjorn ‘Aldrahn’ Dencker brings the avant-garde weirdness once again, and it is excellent.

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14: FLEURETY – ‘The White Death’ (Peaceville Records)

Obliterating the notion of genre constraints since the early ’90s, Norwegians Fleurety are back with a stunningly bizzare rabbit hole from which there is zero chance of escape and even less of understanding. “We were always being normal”… 

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13: DSKNT – ‘PhSPHR Entropy’ (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)

A churning maelstrom tearing apart the very physics of reality at a molecular level. I’d been following this release from Swiss enigma ASKNT with extreme interest, then when Sentient Ruin Laboratories picked it up for release I couldn’t have been happier. Terrifying. You need this in your life.

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12: MRTVI – ‘Negative Atonal Dissonance’ (Transcending Obscurity Records)

How many artists are truly experimenting with black metal, or music in general?  For Damjan from mental Serbian/UK project MRTVI it’s gone past the ‘experimental’ stage, he’s now inventing. Full of improvisation and all sorts of sonic abandon, my 2017 list is stacked with avant-garde alchemy but this may just be the most batshit. Anxiety inducing.

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11: TCHORNOBOG – ‘Tchornobog’ (I, Voidhanger Records, Fallen Empire Records)

I watched the hype slowly creep and then explode on this when it was released, and it was completely deserved. Monstrous, disturbing songs that warp your psyche; this isn’t an album you can dip in and out of. Dive in to the horror. 

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10: NORSE – ‘The Divine Light of a New Sun’ (Transcending Obscurity Records)

“A warped, angular beast that lumbers towards you, continuously shape-shifting as body parts and facial features drop off and regrow in a horrifying, gibbering terror. Utterly inhuman.” Many, many more people should have paid attention to this dissonant Australian behemoth of an album. Superb. 

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9: AOSOTH – ‘V: The Inside Scriptures’ (Agonia Records)

Backed up their last in spectacular fashion. I listened to this many, many times; and I still haven’t even received my vinyl yet.

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8: TETRAGRAMMACIDE – ‘Primal Incinerators of Moral Matrix’ (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Ultimate punishment. These Indian commandos took the gloves clean off with this release and created an all out assault of sonic war crimes, each frenzied blow landing with lazer precision. The most brutal album on this list, and arguably of the year. 

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7: BLUT AUS NORD – ‘Deus Salutis Meae’ (Debemur Morti Productions) 

Nobody does it like these gentlemen. It may not have been the giant leap forward many were expecting, but they didn’t need to. Still the best in the game. 

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6: ACRIMONIOUS – ‘Eleven Dragons’ (World Terror Committee)

Semjaza is a man who knows his stuff, and this album ticked every single box for me. Perfect black art deserving of the highest praise. Glory to the one who is Eleven. 

~

5: CHAOS MOON – ‘Eschaton Mémoire’ (Blood Music)

Alex Poole does it again. This time allowing a more collaborative effort for his main project, the inclusion of Eric Baker on vocals this time around is absolutely inspired. Top shelf USBM, absolutely essential. 

~

4: SEVEROTH – ‘Forestpaths’ (Werewolf Promotion)

I listened to this album more times than any other over the course of the year. Ukranian demon Severoth‘s second entry into this list is a spellbinding journey through an immersive, frozen world. Something about this release hits me just right. A masterpiece.

~

3: american – ‘Violate and Control’ (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)

Fucking savagery. The US black industrial noise terrorist duo crafted something special here; something hideous and usually hidden but now dragged screaming into the light. The only album I purchased on multiple formats, and it’s pleased me to no end that I’ve seen it pop up on a few other year-end lists. Hanging to see what they do next.

~

2: BLACK CILICE – ‘Banished From Time’ (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Released in early March and never bettered. The raw black metal album of the year. Incredibly affecting, I was lost in its hypnotic swathes of cavernous howls for what felt like an eternity. Atmosphere like no other.

~

1: YELLOW EYES – ‘Immersion Trench Reverie’ (Gilead Media)

This album crept up on me. I had no idea it would be my album of the year until I was compiling this list, when I realised there could be only one release that could, and should, be at the top. At first listen you think it’s cool and the US crew had made some nice improvements building on ‘Sick With Bloom’; but once it starts to get under your skin and the nuances begin to reveal themselves there’s nothing quite like it. The field recordings from Tibet are only the icing on a rich, fascinatingly calm and natural yet grim and unsettling cake. Oustanding. Unique. In a banner year for Black Metal, this was the best.

~

Near Misses: Synodic – ‘Infinite Presence In A Violent Universe’, Desolate Shrine – ‘Deliverance from the Godless Void’, Bašmu – ‘VVitchblood’, Orm – ‘Orm’, Theurgia – ‘Transformation’, Fell Ruin ‘To The Concrete Drifts’, Fin – ‘Arrows of a Dying Age’, Enisum – ‘Seasons of Desolation’, Lóstregos – ‘Lendas Baixo o Luar’, Vassafor – ‘Malediction’, Windswept – ‘The Great Cold Steppe’, Dodecahedron – ‘Kwintessens’, Sarkrista – ‘Summoners of the Serpents Wrath’, Woe – ‘Hope Attrition’, Doedsvangr – ‘Satan Ov Suns’, Weregoat – ‘Pestilential Rites of Infernal Fornication’, Acedia Mundi – ‘Speculum Humanae Salvationis’, Malokarpatan – ‘Nordkarpatenland’, Wiegedood – ‘De Doden Hebben Het Goed II’, Falls of Rauros – ‘Vigilance Perennial’, Ofermod – ‘Sol Nox’.

~

…And that caps off the 2017 edition of LISTCRUSH. My utmost respect and admiration to all the artists that toiled in the darkness and blessed us with their blackened works last year. Think I missed anything? You’re probably right, send me your favourite shit. I’ll be chewing on a stack of remaining 2017 releases for the next few months anyway. 

Hails 2017; bring on 2018.

-A

~

Get in early for next year: Email blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

Submissions welcomed.

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LISTCRUSH – Part One: Splits and EPs

It’s that wonderful time of year: The time when every man and his dog has been splattering their ‘best of’ lists all over every available surface with joyous abandon. It’s also handy to find out if you’ve missed anything outstanding, as perusing lists from like-minded souls with similar tastes often yields overlooked gems. Last year I probably listened to more music than ever before and I still definitely would have missed plenty of gold standard releases; so, far from being comprehensive ‘best of’ lists here are BMD’s humble lists of superb black/blackened splits, EPs and albums that more people should hear and you should hunt down if you slept on. Some big names, some clandestine arts; my favourite shit from one of the most stacked years in recent memory, and every single one of these artists/releases I wholeheartedly recommend for your full attention. Part one: Splits and EPs. Enjoy.

~

~~ TOP 10 SPLITS ~~

10: GRAVEIR / MAR MORTUUM (Impure Sounds)

The first of three (!) all-Australian splits to make my top 10. An uneasy journey from Graveir knocks you around a bit before Mar Mortuum come through with absolute strength and astonishing quality. How neither of these bands are bigger than they are is beyond the limits of my comprehension. 

~

9: PAYSAGE D’HIVER / DRUDKH (Season Of Mist)

A single lengthy piece of windswept hypnotic atmosphere from Paysage D’Hiver that’s still absolutely essential; the only thing that prevents this being higher up the list is Drudkh not meeting their usual lofty standards. Which means by average plebian standards, it’s still fucking great. Even sub-par Drudkh is excellent music.

~

8: INTRINSIC LIGHT / EXPURGATORY (YNTPM)

Zen transcendence and blackened noise-rock experimentalism from the bowels of Melbourne, Australia. No other split intrigued me like this did; an almost indescribable experience. Those scared to stray far from the black metal blueprint need not apply.

~

7: WHITEWURM / TRUE LOVE (Les Fleurs Du Mal Productions)

Two solo USBM artists combine for one of the most caustic double stabs of hate you’ll have heard last year. Everything starts off disgustingly well with Whiteworm (featuring guest vocals from Eric Baker, who I daresay will also pop up somewhere in part two) then descends even further into new depths of hell with True Love. This was actually how I discovered True Love, so I like this split even more for that. 

~

6:  SUTEKH HEXEN / BLSPHM (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)

Yeah I’m cheating throwing a vinyl reissue in here, but the original release from years ago was ridiculously limited and barely anyone heard it, so fuck you, this counts in my book. Like listening to the destruction (Sutekh Hexen) and aftermath (BLSPHM) of the end of the world; strangely calming and terrifying all at once.

~

5: SINMARA / MISÞYRMING (Terratur Posessions, Vánagandr)

The Icelandic masters knock it out of the park on both sides. Sinmara‘s track ‘Ivory Stone’ is somehow even better than anything on ‘Within the Weaves of Infinity’, which is saying something.

~

4: HOWLS OF EBB / KHTHONIIK CERVIIKS (I, Voidhanger Records, Iron Bonehead Productions)

Khthoniik Cerviiks and Howls of Ebb try to outdo each other for pure black death avant-garde psychic obliteration. Utterly batshit.

~

3: ABIGOR / NIGHTBRINGER / THY DARKENED SHADE / MORTUUS (Self Released)

Four great artists, four tracks that blend seamlessly into a mesmerising and magickal whole, one stunning split. Reverential. Immerse thyself.

~

2: CONVULSING / SIBERIAN HELL SOUNDS (Art As Catharsis, WOOAAARGH)

Sheer masterful carnage. I still haven’t wrapped my head completely around these twin Australian black holes, and it’s been out for a month. It’s also another one that introduced me to one of the artists; I fucking love Convulsing and am forever grateful to Brendan for finally making me check out Siberian Hell Sounds through this release. Be warned: this will consume you from the inside out.

~

1: BLOOD TYRANT / DEPARTURE CHANDELIER (Nuclear War Now! Productions)

Unequivocal and irrefutable split of the year. Raw vampyric elitist art from Dutch duo Blood Tyrant, and the triumphant return after six years of Canadians Departure Chandelier. It may only be a single track from each (and a short intro) but I can easily flip the 7″ over and over and listen on repeat for hours, and have done so many times. Near perfection.

~

Near Misses: Sutekh Hexen / Hissing, Funeral Moon / Hordes of the Black Cross, Thy Darkened Shade / Chaos Invocation.

~

~~ TOP 10 EP’S ~~

10: HEXIS – XII (Self Released)

The unstoppable Dutch blackened hardcore pulverisers somehow topped ‘Tando Ashanti’ from earlier in the year with this. I’m still mightily pissed I missed them when they came through my area last year too. Brutal.

~

9: HIMELVARUWE – ‘Gewrocht’ (The Throat)

I could have easily put Dutch enigma T‘s  other raw demo for this project (‘CCIII’) up here, or his release from the also-stunning Kaffaljidhma; but this captivated me from the minute I heard it. How does he do it? Beats me, but I hope he never stops.

~

8: MALEFIC LEVITATION – ‘The Ancient Plague’ (Sentient Ruin Laboratories, Dawnbreed Records)

This came in relatively late but I’ve been playing the shit out of it. In a great year for war metal, these US berzerkers blew me away. Ultimate destruction; more please, stat.

~

7: AVERSIO HUMANITATIS – ‘Longing For The Untold’ (Sentient Ruin Laboratories, BlackSeed Productions)

“This is an EP that will pull your skin off slowly to force you to see what’s underneath, directing your gaze both inwards and outwards.” 

I said that in the intro piece for when I interviewed them earlier in the year and it’s still a perfect description of their nihilistic, transcendent black/death assault to me. Need a new full-length from these demons. 

~

6: LORN – ‘Arrayed Claws’ (I, Voidhanger Records)

I’ve been communicating sporadically with Radok of Italians Lorn for almost a year now in regards to an interview; he’s a fascinating person. Perhaps one day it will eventuate, but in the meantime let the intricate, silvery ‘Arrayed Claws’ sink needle-like into your brain. Unique and unsettling; this project just gets better and better with each release.

~

5: SINMARA – ‘Within the Weaves of Infinity’ (Oration, Terratur Possessions)

Intricate, deeply melodic in its bleakness and utterly captivating in the tale it tells, this wrapped its rich tapestries around me and didn’t let go for some time. Bodes extremely well for the upcoming full-length.

~

4: GNIPAHÅLAN – ‘I Blodets Kamp…’ (Ancient Records, Mysticism Productions)

I would have put the Swedes excellent self-titled full length in the top albums list but that originally came out in 2016 despite the ’17 vinyl release, so luckily this EP more than makes up for that omission. Raw black with perfect atmospheric clarity; listen deeply.

~

3: VOIDSPHERE – ‘To Call | To Speak’ (Fallen Empire Records, Amor Fati Productions)

I said in the last Bandcamp Misanthropy this was one of the greatest EPs to drop last year and it easily would have been the greatest if the next two on the list hadn’t been released. The production gets me every time. Pure void worship. I need to pick this up on vinyl.

~

2: THANTIFAXATH – ‘Void Masquerading As Matter’ (Dark Descent Records)

The first time I heard ‘Cursed Numbers’, my reaction was simply: Wow. The Canadian trio could have released that track as a single and I still would have put it somewhere on this list; add the rest of the EP and you’ve almost taken top spot. Follows up ‘Sacred White Noise’ in the best way possible. Stunning. 

~

1: SKÁPHE – ‘Untitled’ (Mystískaos) 

I feel like many have forgotten about this outstanding single track EP, the third release from the duo of Alex Poole (another name that may pop up in part two) and D.G of Martröð, Misþyrming and Naðra. Black metal to me is all about feeling; this makes me feel like I’m trapped in a nightmare hell trip through the worst kind of hallucinatory psychosis. Easily the best of the year. Yeah DMT and LSD are cool, but have you tried Skáphe?

~

Near Misses: Serpent Column – ‘Ornuthi Thalassa’, SVRM – anything he released last year, Kaffaljidhma – ‘IV’, Rür – ‘Rür’, Somnium Nox – ‘Terra Inanis’, Abkehr – ‘In Asche’, Thy Sepulchral Moon – ‘Contemptuous Retaliation Storm’, Nordjevel – ‘Krigsmakt’, Endalok – ‘Úr Draumheimi Viðurstyggðar’, Svartidauði – ‘Untitled’.

~

And that’s Part One wrapped up, hope you found at least one new blackened delight to pleasure/annihilate your ears with. Let me know anything I’ve missed, should have heard, or just how terribly shit you think my listening tastes are in general and stay tuned for Part Two: Albums, coming soon. 

Hails to 2017.

– A.

~

Get in early for 2018. Submissions welcomed.

Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

    Bandcamp Misanthropy – Volume 15: Holiday Edition

    As I’ve been slacking off a little with these and in an attempt at keeping with the spirit of the season, here’s the very first holiday edition of Bandcamp Misanthropy: Twenty artists, all name-your-price download so you can bag yourself a load of fresh sounds either free or supporting the artist however you like. Due to the sheer amount of releases I’ve kept my word count to a minimum; I also ran out of time and had plenty more releases to put in than this, so expect another Volume soon. Anyway, here’s the fifteenth and final 2017 installment of Bandcamp Misanthropy for your vulgar delectation. Enjoy. 

    ~

    Artist: Chaos Moon

    Year: 2017

    Kicking off proceedings in the best way possible, USBM masters Chaos Moon have returned with their fourth full length ‘Eschaton Mémoire’ and without any fucking about with unnecessary words: it’s incredible. 

    Created by men whose pedigree includes KriegManetherenSkapheMartröđ and more with superbly symbolic cover art by Jef Whitehead of Leviathan, this release is utterly bewitching and the haunting fury of it will affect you for days. The band have this to say about it: 

    Eschaton Mémoire is finality: from invocation to ruin. It spans each phase of this death from multiple perspectives and through various planes. Each passage further opens the cosmic wound, weaving other realms into the present; bloodletting the metaphysical plague. The end consummated, may the mists of Niflheim shroud forevermore.”

    This really is ultimate quality USBM and the fact that it’s up for name-your-price download simply blows me away. Many thanks to the excellent Blood Music (who will also be stocking the CD and vinyl versions) for that. 

    You know way back at the beginning, when you first heard black metal? The magic it had? Well, this release is the physical manifestation of that feeling. Seriously. If you don’t already own it: download this now.

    ~

    Artist: Entheogen

    Year: 2017

    And in a neat segway from Chaos Moon we have another related project, this time Alex Poole handles all vocal intonations/strangulations while fellow Mooner Steve Blackburn is the main songwriter. Both of these men have clearly struck creative gold this year. ‘Without Veil, Nor Self’, the otherworldly debut of US experimentalists Entheogen, will split your mind off into several simultaneous perceptual tangents allowing reality to become both an entirely new proposition and completely inconsequential all at once. 

    Bleak, delicate and furious; this exercise in dissonance and metaphysical catastrophe is making a shitload of end-of-year lists for good reason, and for a sneak peak if I ever get around to posting it: it may just be on mine. Pick this up at name-your-price download without hesitation. LP coming next year through Fallen Empire Records and cassette through Mystískaos.

    ~

    Artist: LVTHN

    Year: 2017

    A blazing occult orthodox rite from the Belgian LVTHN. Two tracks, twenty five minutes; a conceptual mini-album about Arachnidia Lilith, the spider goddess of Sitra Ahra. 

    Is it good? Yes. This time around they aim to honour the arachnid aspects of The Dark Mother and those aspects come across in the music well. Shifting, sliding guitars skitter in anxiety laden mania as the infernal power rises. “Power from the living, power from the dead” are some of ZD‘s vocal intonations on opening track ‘Arachnidia’ and that proves a sinister omen, as by the end of the vehemently venemous, irresistibly devotional and downright monolithic ‘Akkawbishia’, everyone and everything has been sacrificed for the life and glory of The Queen. 

    A strong release that reminds me I need to spend more time with this often overlooked band. Worship through name-your-price download, or pick up physical tools of ritual from Fallen Empire RecordsAmor Fati Productions and Rat King Records – UK. Oh, and the cover art is nice.

    ~

    Artist: Jassa

    Year: 2017

    Fog and stillness; the True God resides in The Abyss, where there is no past and no future.

    Toiling away in the darkness, subterranean Russian black death esotericists Jassa continue to produce higher works of such ferocious alchemy they could transmute flesh into black gold. With deranged riffs, skin-searing vocals, tribal flourishes and streaks of creative experimentalism surging throughout their ritual offerings, it may lean more heavily on the ‘death’ part of their descriptor than previous efforts but I’m still slightly taken aback that ‘Incarnation of the Higher Gnosis’ isn’t popping up on at least the deep end of a few end of year lists. It probably would if more people had heard it, who knows. If you haven’t yet, be ashamed and rectify this at once with a name-your-price download below and/or snap up an LP from Fallen Empire Records if there’s any left.

    ~

    Artist: Aura Mortis

    Year: 2017

    Next up, a quick fix of hatred and the voice of Satan himself from Serbian duo Aura Mortis. ‘Proclamation of the Sardonic Flame’ is two stirring tracks devoted to extinguishing all life in the name of the Dark Lord and acting as an audial vessel for His will.

    The first paean is composed of an intro and the title song itself (‘Tartarus Rising/Proclamation of the Sardonic Flame’); and whilst it’s more dynamic and the riffs and atmosphere are undoubtedly top notch, in my opinion it’s the b-side ‘In Being Engraved’ that’s an absolute fucking stormer. A fire hit of full blistering orthodoxy, this emanates the glory of Satan in wretched obesiance before lurching into a morbid, mid-tempo outro hymnal filled with awe and rotting reverence.

    Good songwriting, savage vocals and the guitars have that satisfying buzz. You can’t go wrong at name-your-price download; tape out through Zły Demiurg with a CD version coming soon. Total death. 

    ~

    Artist: Sol Lustitiae

    Year: 2017

    And lo, we witness the birth of something beautiful. The instrumental raw demo recordings for what is apparently an upcoming full-length, this could easily be left as-is and would still be pretty great. Sol Lustitiae (‘Sun of Righteousness’) hail from Italy and play liturgic black metal; equal parts stunning bleakness, ephemeral dissonance, bright atonal intricacies and brilliant post-scapes. The compositional skill on display here is nothing short of dazzling and it will unquestionably be something truly special once polished up, but for now, immerse yourself in what our forsaken souls can reach of the light shining from ‘Iam, Christe, Sol Lustitiae’. Name-your-price download.

    ~

    Artist: Agonie

    Year: 2017

    Some Canadian black metal done the old way. The duo of Agonie summoned their sophomore slab of death worship way back in January and ‘Culte Funèbre’ sounds exactly how you’d want it to. A sombre soliloqy from the crypt in six parts, this drinks deeply from the veins of masters past and each ode stands alone as a grim piece of dark art. Sepulchral and vampyric atmospheres are conjured with ease, dripping in blood; while special mention must be made of the dual throat attack containing some killer variety from hopeless, agonized howls to demonic low growls. And I’m not usually a fan of ambient closing tracks, but absolutely satanic final ambient piece ‘Funérailles d’un monde’ is a suitably horrifying and theatrical way to close out proceedings, pitch-shifted vocals and all.

    It’s up for name-your-price download, as well as their first release. Oh and if you purchased the tape from Solar Asceticists Productions it came with a vial of real bone ash and a handwritten French poem on parchment scroll, which is a lovely touch. Hails.

    ~

    Artist: Eskapism

    Year: 2017

    A neat little pair of new tracks from Ukrainian atmospheric duo Eskapism. The first is single ‘Lost Land’; a masterful and marvellous example of how these men manage to pack so many emotions into one track. From the lush synth intro to the epic finish this track is a dynamic rollercoaster and gold star testament to their songwriting abilities; if you don’t want to press play again immediately after hearing it you may be dead. The only thing that may stop you from flogging that one track on repeat for hours is the B-side: a killer rendition of Swedish act Skogen‘s track ‘Aska’, that captures and may even improve upon the feeling and power of the original well. 

    Free download, but it’s a little tricky; you’ll have to pay $3 to grab both tracks together (well worth it, support if you’ve got the coin) or you can download each track separately for free. 

    ~

    Artist: Kaffaljidhma

    Year: 2017

    ‘Alphecca of the Northern Crown, Sequestered in an Alcove of Lustrous Spires’ is the evocative title of the single 12 minute expression of raw Dutch anti-cosmic transcendentalism that comprises one man project Kaffaljidhma‘s fourth emission, ‘IV’.

    Spectral melodies, drum patterns and howls echo around inside a cavernous wall of sound, although “cavernous” isn’t really the right word. It’s more a space inside a higher plane of existence created by the music itself, drawn from the mind of the enigmatic (AKA: Olibanum) who also brings us Himelvaruwe and other wonders. It’s haunting stuff; one track isn’t nearly enough but luckily he also has another three exemplary Kaffaljidhma releases all up for name-your-price, with a new one coming early 2018. Fingers crossed for an eventual full-length.

    ~

    Artist: Hyperborean Skies

    Year: 2017

    US artist Ben Stire released an exceptional full-length for his solo atmo-black project Hyperborean Skies back in June, and to tide you over until the next album of melodic mastery, he’s dropped a surprising little curio: a cover of ‘Walking In The Air’, originally by Howard Blake and featured in the 1982 short animated film ‘The Snowman’.

    Now I unashamedly/unironically love that song so I was extremely interested to see what he’d done to it; and what he has done is completely fucking nailed it whilst totally making it his own. Translating the entire song into blasting black metal would have been almost predictable, instead he works the dynamics of the original composition perfectly and even aces the clean vocals.

    If he’s going to cover obscure and unexpected songs this well, part of me hopes his next full-length is a covers album. Superbly done. Name-your-price download.

    ~

    Artist: Witch Trail

    Year: 2017

    Belgian three-piece Witch Trail have cooked up a delicious brew of sludgy post-black post-punk goodness, just for you. On latest EP and 8th release overall ‘Thole‘, they effortlessly genre-hop at will in a breathtaking display of raw talent and somgwriting capability. 

    Every track on this is a winner. Riffs with attitude, the vocal attack roared from a place of power. The black metal influence may be buried deep sometimes, but it’s never far away and always ready to pounce back and grab you by the throat at any second. Couple this with a frequently raw, careening punk vibe that threatens to either derail or lash out with kicks to the head and you have one of those tense albums that sounds gloriously dangerous even in the quieter moments. Of which there are many, often tightly wound and seething with barely hidden intent. 

    For those feeling a little more adventurous than your standard black, get in here and grab a name-your-price download now; this is some seriously rocking shit. They’ve been through nine levels of hell trying to get vinyl properly pressed so if they ever successfully manage that you’ll be able to pick up some wax too, but in the meantime you can also purchase physical support in the form of a CD through Babylon Doom Cult Records.

    ~

    Artist: Macerie

    Year: 2017

    And now an Italian blackened crust post-hardcore trio that revel in slow-burning yet manic wretchedness. When Macerie‘s two track EP ‘To K***’ gets moving it absolutely crushes your bones to dust; but almost absentmindedly, as though either unaware or uncaring. Bleakness and brutality in equal measure.

    Good news and bad news. The good: If you like what you hear, they have another four track release also available at name-your-price, that was also once released on tape through Sentient Ruin Laboratories and may still be available from a few select distros. The bad: I’m not entirely sure they’re still active, so these may be the last releases you hear.

    ~

    Artist: Ovnev

    Year: 2017

    A year after the release of his debut album ‘Cycle of Survival’ which popped up way back in Volume 3, one man USBM wilderness walker West returns with another excellent offering inspired by the harshness and grandeur of the natural world. 

    ‘Incalescence’ is a solitary and emotional album, but not in a depressive sense. No, West is instead adept at implanting feelings that ebb and flow naturally betwixt a sense of awe, introspection and quiet wonder. An improved production gives new power to the compositions, the layered guitars take on almost elemental force while the frequent acoustic breaks remain an atmospheric highlight. I’ve previously mentioned this already but Ovnev remains very much a project with deep artistic integrity; you’ll be drawn in with ease, totally believing in his vision and feeling it. 

    A perfect accompaniment for your own trip into the wild unknown, be it physical or a mental flight of fancy whilst curled up on the couch at home. Grab a name-your-price download or a physical copy from Naturmacht Productions today.

    ~

    Artist: Funeral Harvest

    Year: 2017

    Raw Norwegian Satanic occult death rituals. Interested? You should be. ‘Bunker Ritual Rehearsal’ is the debut demo from the shadowy Funeral Harvest and for an embryonic first effort, it definitely shows a hefty amount of potential. 

    Listening to this is like the last thirty years of genre progressions never happened; it’s simply nothing less than raw, live-recorded black metal played with spirit like days of yore. Scandinavian riffs abound (the main one on opener ‘Nihil Sub Sole Novum’ is a sinister scorcher) and they balance out and enhance that approach quite well with an obscure tone that permeates all. The guitars are often in a slightly lower register than you might be expecting, packing more body blows and menace whilst the vocals are ripped straight out of the early ’90s playbook. Then there’s the even rawer fourth track ‘☧’ which takes things to abrasive new heights but remains no less compelling, as all foul ingredients swirl together to create an intoxicating breath of fresh but ancient air from the crypt. 

    Pure black metal. Available at name-your-price download, or grab a slice of evil in cassette form from Iron Bonehead Productions.

    ~

    Artist: Deadwood Lake

    Year: 2017

    You may remember UK atmo/melodic fellows Deadwood Lake from the ancient times of Volume 2 when we checked out their debut EP ‘Remembrance’, based on the tragedy of vocalist Bruce Powell losing his brother in an accident. The band itself was formed in tribute to him and it’s a theme they intend to continue; which they have done surprisingly well on first full-length ‘Forest of Whispers’.

    Continuing the same theme, no matter how well-meaning and honest, could still easily feel like rehashing the same material. This avoids that by means of being a step up from the EP in just about every aspect and Bruce himself possibly going through a kind of gradual evolution as the days pass. I’m loathe to even imagine what he must still be going through so I don’t want to be presumptuous, but it feels somehow different. Whereas it was mesmerising and heart-wrenching to hear the raw pain on the EP, now it’s still there but seems almost tempered in a way and the songs feel more vital overall. He still speaks of it all from many different angles but I find that this time around it’s when he fights back or gives in to rage that the songs are their strongest. ‘Forest of Whispers’ has some great moments and when he screams “Eye for an eye, life for a life” in ‘Vengeance Will be Mine’, you fucking believe it.

    Not that the rest of the album isn’t great. All performances have stepped up a notch and the songwriting taking some bold steps; the first time I had the album playing in the background I had to stop and check it at one point that it hadn’t somehow skipped artists to an old Steven Wilson demo or something, so make of that what you will.

    A solid listen and at name-your-price it’s worth your support. I still admire what these gents are doing. 

    ~

    Artist: Voidsphere

    Year: 2017

    I don’t know how the hell I missed posting about ‘To Call / To Speak’ a couple of months ago when I first heard it, so luckily it slots nicely in here. I only even remembered to actually purchase it when I was writing this article which is frankly fucking inexcusable as it’s easily one of the greatest EPs to drop this year. Featuring the same anonymous person(nel) as the excellent Arkhtinn, prepare yourself for a raw 40 minutes of total USBM abyss worship over two expansive, savagely grandiose tracks. 

    Opening with ambience that indeed sounds like the maw of the Void beginning to split open in the vacuum of space, before you know it the universe rends apart and the horror begins. The lo-fi cosmic howl hits you; you’re done. There is no escape. This EP has its own hypnotic gravitational pull and will rend you limb from limb once you’re helplessly lost in its violent magnitude.

    I could wax lyrical about this one for ages, but just download the thing and let the music speak for itself. Released through the umbrella of Prava Kollektiv with physical copies also available from Fallen Empire Records and Amor Fati Productions.

    ~

    Artist: SVRM

    Year: 2017

    I don’t believe this man has ever released a dud note let alone a bad song, but the unsung master of autumnal atmospheres is back with what may somehow be his strongest material yet.

    I first covered Ukrainian solo artist SVRM back in Volume 9 and on his fifth EP he’s still not wasting a single note; push play on any of the three tracks on offer throughout ‘Останнє Сонце’ (‘The Last Sun’) and you’re immediately swathed in gorgeous, perfectly placed layers of spine-chilling melodies, driving percussion and his roaring, impassioned vocals.

    Boasting a slightly cleaner sound than previous efforts, everything honestly feels just right. Have you heard a similar kind of thing before? Likely. But (barring the already established masters), seldom done this well. I listened to it ten times in a row when it was released the other night and you should too, this project deserves far more exposure than it gets. Up for name-your-price download with all his other great releases. Support.

    ~

    Artist: Inner Suffering

    Year: 2017

    This release (which isn’t even his latest) by prolific Ukranian solo artist Inner Suffering was recommended to me by Kimberlee of the now defunct Synodic, who gave an eloquent description of what ‘It’s All The Same In The End’ means to her:

    “I’ve listened to this album countless times and it conveys a melancholic emotion that I was able to apply to my life situation which suited my mood perfectly. This is an instrumental album so it’s easy to get lost in the music and interpret it the way you see fit. I love it because of that fact. Most everything from Inner Suffering takes me to a place within myself that is very real.  Perfect ambient depressive black metal.”

    Perfect ambient depressive black metal it is. It doesn’t even depress you, just makes you numb. We could delve deeper into technicalities like the interesting dissonance between the 7 string rumble and the etherial melodies, but over-analysing would take away the magic so just grab it and experience it for yourself. Lithium in audio form.

    ~

    Artist: My Purest Heart For You

    Year: 2017

    Unearthing gems like this is both why I love Bandcamp and why the Bandcamp Misanthropy Volumes began in the first place. On third release ‘Isolation and the Ward of Internal Abuse’, US experimental DSBM Artist My Purest Heart For You effortlessly creates a unique and captivating atmosphere through the oddly perfect duality of gorgeous, choral keys and hyper-raw distorted DSBM that occasionally borders on noise. Melancholy guitar work, throat shredding screams and magical, almost peaceful synth layers; it’s incredibly easy to lose yourself in this release and it may be quite unlike anything you’ve heard before. 

    Highly recommended. A beautiful, zen-like flower in the darkness. 

    ~

    Artist: Krampusnacht

    Year: 2017

    And to wrap things up poorly like your drunk parents pretending to be Santa on Christmas eve, I don’t delve into pure dungeon synth very often on these pages but in the spirit of the season (and because it’s actually pretty great), here’s a name-your-price Christmas dungeon synth covers album.

    Fuck Christmas, enjoy the holidays. Hails.

    ~

    Submissions for possible inclusion in future Volumes are welcome.

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    Light Fell Silent – An Interview with DSKNT

    – time shifts and stretching tensor operators –

    – isotropic radiation of remnants & white noises –

    – transform & disassemble –

    ~

    In this age of immediacy an artist still managing to stay cloaked in an aura of mystery is a fascinating thing; and enigmatic act DSKNT has been absolutely and effortlessly swathed in it. Originally formed in 2013 but laying seemingly dormant since, over the last six months scattered and intricately titled tracks began creeping out that sounded like the inexorable, grinding machinations of a machine neither organic nor lifeless yet working feverishly to deconstruct reality in suffocating horror; however all available information about these creations amounted to a few cryptic statements, a Swiss location and some personnel rumours. Even a label press release stated that they were “unable to confirm any other details regarding the nature and identity of the project”. 

    That is, until now. 

    After following the project with interest and devouring every mind-bending composition that slithered as nameless black lava reaching quivering and crystalline from the void, I reached out to make contact; thankfully the man behind it all agreed to lift the veil ever-so-slightly.

    So with the debut album ‘PhSPHR Entropy’ finally released on Sentient Ruin LaboratoriesClavis SecretorvmBabylon Doom Cult Records and easily one of the most intriguing, synapse-crushing releases of the year; submit to its irresistible pull via the full stream linked below and read on as we speak with mastermind ASKNT.

    ~

     
    Greetings, and sincerest thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and allow us a brief glimpse into the world of DSKNT. Not much is known about you, so this is very much appreciated. Firstly: What exactly is DSKNT, and where did it come from?

    – DSKNT is the audial subdivision of DSKNT Industry, a project linking the perception and inspiration I have in order to create music/noise. The DSKNT terminology was extracted shortly after I created DSKNT Industry which is the entity used as medium to transform ideas in music. In fact, and to be compendious, DSKNT is the project and DSKNT Industry its source, its incubator and its global envelop.

    Your debut creation, PhSPHR Entropy, is about to be released. What is the intention with this album, and the meaning/significance of PhSPHR Entropy as a title?

    – The main purpose of the release, as idea, is to create and perform a hermetic conceptual cross between the factual implication as well as the uttermost discernible climax of certain specific aspects of the physics with the ineluctable, complete nullification of all. This fact is only hidden under their expressions in term of mathematical formula. Initial commitments of the lyrics were drawn in this way. Generate an audial unsafe place, a wall of distortions of the senses, kind of an unacceptable noise. The cover of PhSPHR Entropy is intended to extend the concept of the whole concept of the release. Something very sober and static in parallel to the music. Musically, there are two epochs of composition mixed together, but not distinguishable. In terms of lyrics: « You are not important ». Nothing is. It’s only a human issue to apprehend scales.

    PhSPHR Entropy as title and mark of the album has a double significance. Referring clearly to physic and intrinsic natural concepts, first, the Entropy can be used as a kind of measure of disorder or randomness of an isolated system. Mainly, we don’t know enough parameters to understand the system globally. On the other hand, Entropy un-uniformity was the beginning. This measure will denote the end too. 

    Why PhSPHR? Well, PhSPHR is glowing in the dark under certain conditions. The PhSPHR ions are highly reactive and have a high level of possible oxidation, it’s leading to a very high potential of Entropy in addition to being essential for the human being as for the DNA. The two terms together specify the internal metastability as well as the external instability of the All. PhSPHR Entropy speaks in terms of disorder and chaos, directly opposed to the equilibrium. It’s chaos, not the “Chaos”. Underlying chaos.

    From where did you derive inspiration for the sonic chaos and themes depicted on the album?

    – DSKNT inspiration comes from many sides. But it’s mainly driven by my apprehension of the vacuum or simpler of time. Since the disorder is the only leading and underlying principle of all, the sonic chaos, as you call it, comes from of this sensibility to it or probably of the DSKNT internal interests in disorder, sort of a blasting maelstrom. On the other hand, the true chaos will come. Just let it come with the time and its distortions, bends. That’s only a cosmological issue for this global extinction and prevailing void.

    DSKNT seems to aim at defying all normal musical and sound convention. Were there any unusual techniques or instrumentation involved in the assembly of PhSPHR Entropy?

    – I don’t know exactly what you mean by unusual techniques since each recordings phase could be very different from the others, and highly variable among bands. I can say that’s it’s a specific and inherent goal of DSKNT works to achieve such weird sounding. The recording process for a so-called one-man band is relatively different of a band formed by several people, as anyone may understand. Advantage for DSKNT, the music creation process doesn’t imply the inconvenient of making compromises on ideas or music, which could lead to the dilution of the goal to achieve. But the process is probably more iterative and incremental, it takes time. Each track of PhSPHR Entropy has many sub-versions and it’s always a real dilemma when you should set a final version.

    On the other hand, I’m currently developing other techniques for the next tracks and releases, in order to enlarge this abrasive, dizzying, destructive and disassembled style more globally. By techniques I mean, create the own DSKNT hardware disto/fuzz effects and reverbs and other things that could lead to a more unique sounding, or just for DSKNT’s own experiments. As featured in PhSPHR Entropy, Kr. Vy. Rites, I would say that any medium could be used in the future to create this little unsafe suffocating place in music. As well as pure noise elements. My retrospective point of view, the guitar riffing is responsible for most of this entropy, disorder and/or unconventional mesmerizing sounding. But for me, it’s an initial step, I expect more.

    Do you align yourself with any movements, styles or genres, or is DSKNT something that is intended to stand on its own?

    – That’s a problematic question since, as you have noticed, the medium used to express this Entropy is what is mainly characterized as Black Metal. DSKNT themes and the way of doing have nothing to do with the traditional Black Metal themes, especially with new wave of occult themes and bands and the coupled evil imagery. To be under influence, it’s quite obvious (naive people don’t think probably so, but be honest), “Stand on its own” can only be a background idea, but it remains a view of mind.

    The composition part wasn’t and isn’t aligned on a specific style, and will never. I can take “Resurgence of Primordial Void Aperture” versus “Kr. Vy. Rites” and its next “Kr. Vy. Portals” as examples. There is no specific solution or formula in DSKNT music. 

    Everything is subject to change or evolve as well as the DSKNT’s music medium. But I have to say that there is a certain quantity of projects which are creating a very particular style, atmosphere and by the way, a very specific signature in their music. I speak of acts such PORTAL, or of the CHAOS ECHOES approach, HAUS ARAFNA raw sounds treatments. DSKNT can’t directly be categorized as Black Metal nor Death Metal, it’s both and none. And you can probably find most likely an assembly of elements of particular styles.

    I’ve heard whisper that this madness is the product of one man, asknt. Is this true? How many souls took part in its creation, and what roles did they play?

    – You are right. The complete instrumentation and lyrics is asknt’s part of the work. Besides, the vocalist of ANTIVERSUM (on Invictus Productions) has performed the whole vocals/noises parts on PhSPHR Entropy. His skills are very valuable to transmit the DSKNT intents since he understands the concept completely and participates to its sublimation. For the next works, DSKNT certainly will use the same “setup”. 

    I can’t conclude this topic without talking about the highly important participation of Antïgraphics for the cover and layout, which has given the visual interaction with the background ubiquity of the variating Entropy that this release is intended to transmit.

    The album was produced and recorded at DSKNT Industry, of which DSKNT is noted as a Noise Shaped Subdivision. What is DSKNT Industry and is DSKNT its only creation? 

    – DSKNT Industry is both a recording studio, an experimental laboratory and rehearsal place. DSKNT Industry has recorded and engineered some other acts such as AB OCCULTO demos, both NECROSEMEN EP’s, AION’s album “Verses of Perdition” and some other projects, internal or external experiments. DSKNT instrumentations comes and were recorded in this place except the vocal parts which were recording at OSA Crypt in Zürich. I take the opportunity to thank them again.

    PhSPHR Entropy is being unleashed in collaboration with Clavis Secretorvm, Sentient Ruin Industries in the US and Babylon Doom Cult Records for Europe. Are you pleased with the assistance received from these sources?

    – The assistance during the whole process was perfect. The different proposals were totally in the DSKNT’s approach. All the people involved in background for the release were very collaborative and proactive. On the other hand, I was surprised of such support from the labels, since it wasn’t so for older works I’ve tried to release some years ago.

    The DSKNT sigil and cover of the album was created by Antï Graphic Art. How were they to collaborate with? Were these formed from their interpretation of your work or were they under direction?

    – Again, I have to say that DSKNT has nothing to do with human considerations like occult or esoteric concepts, neither other human centred preoccupations or interests. I would say “sigil” isn’t the appropriate and suitable terminology. 

    Concerning the cover, Antïgraphics immediately understood the whole concept. I gave him some global guide lines and the complete and finished lyrics but, in fact and at the end, he was completely free. As far I remember, his creations are very inspired and lead to high-quality artworks with a very personal signature.

    Are there plans for DSKNT to become a live entity in future, or is it by nature something that should be heard but not seen?

    – As you already noticed, there was only few information about the project, about who does what in the project etc. DSKNT can’t treat abstract themes, mainly not related human scaled themes and become a live act, that’s completely antithetical. Furthermore, the live aspect would totally degrade the intention behind this project. According to my own beliefs, the DSKNT music isn’t suitable at all for live performances.

    Are there any further forthcoming emanations from DSKNT apparent?

    – DSKNT is now working on the new basis which will compose the material of the next album and a forthcoming split EP at some moment during the next year. A new attempt in adding opaque and oppressive atmospheres.

    In the beginning of the next year, Sentient Ruin will release PhSPHR Entropy on vinyl.

    Sincerest thanks for shining some light into the void that is DSKNT. Do you have any final messages?

    – Thanks to you for the questions.

    Light fell silent, few seconds before Eternity.

    DSKNT – 04XII17

    ~

    Purchase/pre-order PhSPHR Entropy digitally from Bandcamp HERE, on CD from Clavis Secretorvm HERE, on vinyl from Babylon Doom Cult Records HERE and on cassette or vinyl from Sentient Ruin Laboratories HERE.

    ~

    Support DSKNT:

    ~

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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

    EVIL NERFAL IS JUST UNDERGROUND BLACK METAL, NO FASHION, NO TRENDS, CRUSH ALL POSERS AND YOUR METAL OF SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    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.

    ~

    Support Satanath Records: 

    ~

    Support Grimm Distribution: 

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    ~

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