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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Support Darkenhöld: 

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com 

The Journey is the Destination – An Interview with MRTVI

“BAND DISCLAIMER: Negative Atonal Dissonance is not an album. It is a statement, a philosophy, an experiment; a rejection and reaction to the current trends within the mainstream and underground alike. Extreme metal has painted itself into a corner. Production values that serve no other purpose other than to sound recognisable and palatable. Arrangements, rhythms and harmonies that are more concerned with being identifiable and ‘viable’ than with originality. In an infinite universe, music is endless; a spectrum of emotion, of atmosphere, a vibrational connection running through and joining all frequencies; a spiritual, meditative practice, a dream and a nightmare connecting the creation with the creative force…”

Astute followers of Black Metal Daily may recall a while back I sung the praises of Serbian/UK experimentalist MRTVI, calling full-length ‘Negative Atonal Dissonance’ “…less ‘music’ than it is an attempt to shatter the space-time continuum”. In a fortunate and happy coincidence, I ran into the multi-instrumentalist mastermind behind it all Damjan Stefanovic in a diseased back alley somewhere in the dark shadows of the Internet (alright, it was a Facebook group comment thread. Same thing) and as it turns out he’s a super cool, down-to-earth guy with a diverse musical background and an intense passion for what he does. The result is one of the most in depth interviews we’ve had on these pages, about everything from recording techniques to the future of music… Not to mention his plans to change the fabric of music itself.

If you’re unfamiliar with his work, have a listen to the various audio samples scattered throughout the article. He largely implements improvisation along such lines as Nornahetta for example, but travels to infinitely more disturbing places sonically. The titular final track from ‘Negative Atonal Dissonance’ sounds like time unravelling around you. Even the production values are outside the ‘metal’ norm. The whole thing is an unsettling listen that descends further and further into chaos as it goes along; challenging comfort and the perceived natural flow of the universe, seemingly tearing a black hole in reality as we know it.

It’s an utterly mental release and you can hear a myriad of genres having varying degrees of influence on the sound of it, yet at its heart still beats a seething, horrifying mass of black metal. Not your typical black, however; what’s here is stripped back to beyond the core of it, black metal (or indeed, music itself) at a primal level but then enabled and allowed to flower outwards like a fractal, as it will. Natural, yet totally alien and undeniably panic-inducing. No bullshit, no restrictions, no tropes; you get the feeling we are seeing Damjan at his most pure artistic and creative self. It simply wouldn’t work if he called himself Lord Mordor and wore a cape, and the honest exploration of music for the sake of it is refreshing.

‘Negative Atonal Dissonance’ (and its predecessor, ‘Perpetual Consciousness Nightmare’) is by no means an easy listen and depending on your own pre-existing mental restrictions when it comes to music, there’s a 50-50 chance you’ll think it’s shit. But for those that find pleasure in the avant-garde and the utter disregard of musical ‘boundaries’, it’s an incredibly rewarding release that truly breaks new ground. So read on and listen carefully… You might just expand your boundaries before you come to any conclusions. After all, the journey is the destination.

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Greetings Damjan! Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, I hope you’re well. Your astonishing second MRTVI release “Negative Atonal Dissonance” has been out for almost four months. Now that the dust has settled, how have you found the general reception to the album?

– Thanks for sending me some questions! In general the response has been really positive. There’s been a few negative reviews too, which is interesting. It seems some people get the jazz influence and some think it’s all just noise, which is fair enough. I got a couple ‘this isn’t metal!’’s too, which is always a good thing. I’m aware it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and I don’t really want it to be, I’m trying to go for something different, but it seems like there are people out there who ‘get’ it, so all in all it’s been a positive step. It’s really interesting reading people’s thoughts especially when you’ve never met them and they can say whatever they like. There’s been reviews from all over the globe too, which is really cool. I think the point is to provoke people a bit too, get the listener out of their comfort zone, so I can’t complain. Also, this has been interesting for me because this album was finished a year or so before it was released, so while I’m in a new head-space musically I’m getting jolted back a couple years to the creation of NAD.

The first track “As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh I” is an almost spoken word piece calling the listener’s attention to the lyrics from the get go; the themes of which resonate particularly well with me. How would you describe the lyrical content and how does it relate to your personal philosophies?

– Well to pre-empt a later question, this one, and in general a lot of the MRTVI lyrics, have been the product of automatic or free writing. I like the spontaneity, and it’s kind of like a verbal improvisation in some ways. I try and get some topics or ideas in my mind without thinking about them too specifically and then let the words flow out, but I’ve got to be in the right frame of mind. Lyrics aren’t the easiest thing for me, though this time around I think they came out well. The first track is kind of like a briefing for the soul before birth. A cosmic initiation a friend called it haha. The whole track is supposed to be a development on the standard atmospheric opening every bm album seems to have, which is why I made it quite long, and it builds to a crescendo. I wanted it to sound like there’s no reference, no gravity, no up or down, or tempo or anything… the melting energy of the ALL before the soul takes its human form.

The album contains a hefty amount of improvisation. I believe you have an interesting way of going about it that separates you from other acts that integrate improv into their art, especially on the mammoth, chaotic maelstrom of a title track which is like nothing else I’ve heard on this earth. Can you tell us a little about the process involved and why you utilise it?

– So I realised a while ago that metallers don’t really improvise. I get that 2 guitars in B played loudly with loads of dist is probably gonna sound terrible, but I wanted to try anyway hahahaha. This was something that I started on this album and have done a few times since (on stuff that was gonna be MRTVI but ended up a little too different to this particular album). So for the title track I recorded a 20 minute drum jam, with only 3 mics (all the drum sounds on this album are with 3 mics, kick snare, and a zoom stereo mic for overheads- which I had to sync up to the other two mics because it records on an SD card). Then I recorded a second one over the top, with the first take in the headphones, but without listening to it beforehand. So with 2 drum tracks, left and right, I recorded 5 guitars, one after another, without listening back to each take. So every take has a layer I’ve only played once before, and the previous layers. Then a bass track and 3 keyboard layers the same way. 

Then when it’s all done you listen back to it. It’s interesting to see where it’s a complete mess and where it comes together almost as if on purpose. The whole thing sort of ebbs and flows together, and after a couple takes I started recognising certain drum fills or sections, so slowly it comes together. After than I went through and put effects all over the place, on every instrument, volume dips and swells, effects coming in and out, phasers and pitchshifters on drums and cymbals has a pretty cool sound to it. Then I free wrote the lyrics and recorded them the day after in one take, improvised. There’s a video of the vocal recording that just went up recently actually: 

Do you find creating in this way more stressful, easier or cathartic than standard composing? Or is it more akin to, say, the phenomenon of automatic writing?

– I don’t find making music stressful. Sometimes it can be hard to make a decision of one part or sound over another, arrangements or song orders, those big picture things can be tough. I like getting lost in that weird in-between dimension where time and space doesn’t exist and it’s all happening in sounds. This improv technique (I dunno if it’s a ‘technique’ exactly, but hey…) is cool because it sort of pulls you in, and with a 20+ minute song with 10 layers that’s a good few hours of being in the zone and oblivious to everything.  It was a specific thing I wanted to try because it was new, and while it has some good results I found after doing a couple other EP’s in the same way that there comes a point where my guitar knowledge isn’t enough and I started repeating some things, so I’ve moved on since then, but I’ll definitely work like that again because if you don’t overdo it you get some really cool sounds, and the process is pretty cathartic when you’re right in there. I’ve also had times where I’m alone recording and I see shapes standing behind me or walking across the room, or sometimes I hear them singing along as if through the ceiling or walls. Sometimes it sounds like a choir and sometimes like disembodied screams. Complete immersion in intangible vibrations hahaha…

You’ve recently made the move from The UK back to your home of Serbia. Has the change in surroundings influenced you creatively in any way?

– Well recording alone in a house in a forest with basically no neighbours is a trip, like I mentioned above… It’s more about just putting myself out of my comfort zone, meeting new people and places. It really puts things into perspective, I’m a lot more sure of what’s important to me and what’s not. What and who I want to spend time and energy with. It forces you to confront things about your personality that you don’t really need to if you’re more settled or comfortable and just going on auto-pilot day in day out in familiarity. I had a lot of good fortune in life (and a lot of bad too…) so I’m just trying to use it to grow and learn and expand, and I think the music and creativity will follow. I’ve managed to create a space to be able to concentrate on music without distractions, I’ve recorded a tonne of new music while being out here in all different styles, which was the aim.  Also all of the MRTVI visuals since the first album have been snapped/filmed in Serbia, while the music for the first two albums was recorded in London, so it’s been a nice mix so far. 

I think there’s probably gonna come a point where the murderous suicidal existential monotonous cacophony will become overbearing again, then I’ll be off to a new place for a couple years 😉 

Negative Atonal Dissonance was released on CD through champions of the underground Transcending Obscurity Records, with a tape edition coming soon through fresh label Tenebrae Sumus Records. How has your experience been with both labels so far?

– Well with Tenebrae Sumus it’s early days, we’re still sorting some details, but it should be a January release. He’s put out some really cool releases so far and pays attention to details like presentation, so I’m looking forward to it. I’ve always wanted to get my music out on all formats. Kunal at Transcending Obscurity is wicked. He totally gets his metal and is honestly really passionate about it which is great. He took a chance on an experimental album so I’ll always be grateful. I’ve chatted to him a bit too, it seems like we’re on the same page about a lot of things which is great. 

The packaging for the CD version is gorgeous, a beautiful physical product in an increasingly digital world. Can you tell us a little about the artwork and photographs used?

– Kunal gets the credit for suggesting the digipack route. I want my artwork to be simple, understated almost, and photographic rather than painted, at least for now… I just don’t want to follow every other band with sacred geometry and pentagram artwork hahaha. The front/back was taken in a doorway in BIGZ which is a giant old building in Belgrade that houses loads of rehearsal and recording studios and probably half the Belgrade music scene. The inside photos are from an old complex on the other side of Belgrade that also has some studios upstairs, but plenty of disused space too. Belgrade is a very photogenic place, every crack in the pavement and graf and alleyway feels like it has a million stories to it. The covers for the first 3 albums are all gonna be linked visually…

This thing also deserves to be on wax. Is there a vinyl release planned?

– Not yet. I’m working on it. Like I said I’d like to get releases on every format but vinyl is expensive and blah blah. I’ve moved beyond those childhood ideas of ‘making it’ and ‘blowing up’ that all the magazines sold us when we were kids. It’s a journey, I’m making music that I care about and building step by step. Vinyl will happen sooner or later… it takes time.

A little history: What was the genesis of the entity known as MRTVI?

– So after a couple year period of little creative output, playing with various bands, various bands breaking up, fizzling out, etc, I wrote 2 songs in a style I hadn’t tried before (the first 2 songs on the first album). Basically it was just a couple songs, but my friends were really supportive and urged me to write more tunes like that. 3 months later the first album was finished. Within a year of writing the first 2 songs, the album was out on tape and disc, getting really positive reviews that I hadn’t expected at all, and the second album was almost finished. 

The atmosphere and general negativity and aesthetic was kind of influenced by an ooooold noise demo of mine that I rediscovered on my computer after years and years, but obviously with a few years more experience and listening to build upon. It had to have that classic European sounding black metal name of course, even though the project doesn’t really fall under the classic BM umbrella in terms of sound. 

It came at a time when I was really disillusioned with music and playing and most everything else in life, a real existential crisis at 22/23, and it helped me figure a few things out and gave me something creative and positive to pour my energy into. MRTVI really is what I want to do, fuck everyone else and their expectations. I’m not making a ‘product’ for someone to ‘market’ in order to have an excuse to tour and take peoples money. I want to break all the rules and then some, I want to make sounds that excite me, I want to push myself, and anyone listening, and see what I can uncover, how deep I can go with it, and if the process and the outcome is inspiring me that’s the most important thing. 

I came across a really cool interview with John Frusciante around that time where he said something like, ‘most people aren’t interested in what they can do for music, they’re interested in what music can do for them.’ I’m doing this for the sake of doing it, and doing it in a way I feel is right. 

And with all this in mind, the positive feedback and support that I’ve received from people all over the world, who I’ve never met, is amazing. It was surprising initially, but validation on an ‘underground’ level has made a lot of fucking bullshit over the last few years super worth it… I’ve gone on a tangent here but fuck it, thanks everyone!!! Hahahahaha

You also run your own label, Life As A Dream Records. What inspired you to start it up, and what is the mission statement of the label, so to speak?

– “We believe true art should be expression first, entertainment second, and a product never.” 

But let’s keep it real, it’s a Facebook/YouTube/Bandcamp page at the moment haha. Basically I want it to be a place where I can keep all the work I’m really proud of together, all different styles and sounds, solo and with bands, and a place where friends of mine can put out their music rather than just potentially sticking it on soundcloud or whatever. I’ve uploaded one album every month this year, mainly its been old bands and solo albums and EP’s. I also want to have some sort of visuals for most of the releases, videos, artwork, everything is in house and idiosyncratic to me/the group/the friends involved. 

In some excellent news, you’ve re-issued the first MRTVI album ‘Perpetual Consciousness Nightmare‘ through Life As A Dream… Today! (Pick up a copy from the Bandcamp page HERE.) What was the thought behind re-releasing your first album now?

– So the label who put that album out initially has since folded, and (with the help of a couple good friends) all the stock came into my possession. I’ve been holding onto it, but with the release of the new album I started getting messages asking where can people find the first album, so here it is, direct from the artists so to speak. I put together this video for it over a year ago that I finally got to put out! 

 Another thing I should mention is that the debut album is also getting a Japanese release in January on MAA Productions, which I am so excited about! There’s more info here: http://www.maaprod.org

What do you feel the key differences are between ‘Perpetual Consciousness Nightmare’ and ‘Negative Atonal Dissonance’?

– The first album was catharsis, the second was a slightly more confident experiment building on what came before, and the response to the first album. The production is totally different, the approach to structuring the songs, the overall flow of the albums. The first album is songs developing themes and atmospheres and pushing ideas individually, the second is more of a whole, overall, concept. There’s technically only one pause in the music on NAD, its pretty much 45 mins of solid noise haha. The second album also has a slight, let’s poke em in the eye, see how metal they REALLY are, sort of provocation to it. Alongside the fact I was pretty much listening only to jazz when I made it, the new album is kind of self-reflexive in a way, how far can you step outside of the conventions of metal, or black metal, while remaining rooted in the sound and atmosphere… when does it, or does it at all, stop being ‘metal’. What is metal? To go back to your first question, I think for some people it is a new perspective on metal, and for some its totally not haha. 

I believe the third MRTVI experiment will be actualized very soon, is this correct? You’ve previously mentioned the two albums so far are connected thematically, will this continue with the third? Can you describe how it all flows together?

– Yea so the third album is done. It just needs mastering. I have most of the ideas for the artwork but nothing shot yet. I also have a load of video shot to put together, but I need to shoot looooads more still. The artwork will be linked, and thematically the lyrics are linked. It’s not like a direct reference or whatever, but it’s there. I’ll talk about that more when the time is right. It’s essentially a 3 album concept though. Musically it’s certainly still MRTVI all over, but there’s a few elements that I haven’t played with yet being introduced, mainly hip-hop. Hahaha that’s a joke obviously…. (I’m listening to loads of hip-hop recently though).

I’m fascinated to see where you’re going to take this project, you already dive to depths others wouldn’t. How do you see your sound developing further? Does MRTVI have a foreseeable end, or are there infinite possibilities?

So album 3 is done. Album 4 is all in my head, and, without wanting to sound like a total cunt, it’s gonna be something special. What I’ve got in mind doesn’t exist in the metal world or anywhere from what I’ve heard. That’s gonna be a LOT (A LOT!) of work though, I have 2 demos at the moment, and theyre not even finished. NOBODY out there is doing what I’m imagining but like I said its all empty talk right now… gimme a couple years to get it down… it’ll change the game 100% for sure…

Other than that, and more realistically at the moment, I’m putting together a set and figuring out a way to get playing live as a solo musician. I was on the fence about it for so long, but I came to the realisation if I want to break the rules, being a one man bm band that tours is a pretty good rule to break. I want to travel and play and meet people and getting 4/5/6/7/8/9 people together to go on the road is a major pain more often than not. So booking agents hit me up hahaha. 

How far do you think exploration of sound and music can go? Imagine 300 years in the future. What are we listening to, how are we experiencing it?

– Hahahaha best question ever. I dunno man, either we’ll all be in some Huxley-esque emotionless future or everyone’s gonna be a cyborg capable of everything… Or maybe flying hi-fis blasting out Slayer from the sky..?

I think you’ll have an interesting take on this: What is the essence of Black Metal to you?
– Black and metal are the two essential ingredients. 

I think there’s a lot about black metal that is very punk. It’s gotta be against the establishment. I like the idea of being elitist in the sense of pushing yourself, better yourself, the Nietzschian overman working to improve himself, educate himself, take responsibility for his own actions and development. Unfortunately a lot of people seem to grossly misunderstand what he was saying, and turn it into another form of toxic herd-like group-think… I dunno, I think that kinda contradicts itself by definition. 

It’s gotta be music that you want to listen to, it’s not supposed to be made palatable for everyone. It’s for people who need it in their lives. It’s should be anti-music. There’s a lot of ‘metal’ bands out there now putting pop choruses in their songs, claiming to be pushing boundaries. No, they’re watering it down. It’s supposed to go the other way. Putting blues solos in bm songs and albums… c’mon man, it’s a specific sound for a specific emotion. It’s not accessible chart music. The lo-fi production I think is also an important part of distancing the whole thing from ‘the norm’, it needs to be challenging. 


And finally, because we’re coming to the end of the year and I’m intrigued to know what the mind behind this madness has been listening to: Any 2017 releases of any genre you’d recommend we check out?

– This year I was excited about Dodecahedron’s second album, also the new Blut Aus Nord that just came out. Fulgurum put out a wicked album, kind of like At The Drive In does bm, although that was in ‘16. I’ve been catching up on the 20 or so albums Omar Rodriguez Lopez (The Mars Volta) put out over the last 18 months.  MRTVI label mates Norse, from Australia put out an awesome album, really dark with some tasty riffage. The new Akercocke was interesting. I’ve been privy to the new Voices album (shhhhh!) though that’s out next year. I found a new band, Artificial Brain, they put out an album called ‘Infrared Horizon’ this year which is fucking wicked!!! Really filthy fucking shit hahaha!!  The new Wolves In The Throne Room is cool too, they never did anything for me before but this album is really cool. The new Inferno album was cool too. I can’t think of any more right now. I’ve been listening to all sorts this year. There’s a London band called Corpsing that put out an EP this year that my friend recorded, and that is brutal, they have an amazing drummer in that band. Oh yea I just remembered I rediscovered Mastodon this year, they’ve changed into a band I put on to relax to, after listening to metal all day hahaha. 

Sincerest thanks for your time Damjan, very keen for the next conjuration. Any last words?

– When Beavis and Butthead get asked the same question by some redneck after tripping on cacti in the desert:

Erm… Boobs… Heh huh heh huh.

In all seriousness though, thanks for taking the time to check out my noise and for the support and encouragement! To everyone that’s shared it, got in touch, listened, downloaded, bought, stolen, whatever. I went off on one earlier, those sentiments still stand. Check out http://www.facebook.com/sustainedthroughdeath for more info as and when it comes, be good to each other! 

Also check out https://lifeasadreamrecords.bandcamp.com/music for a load of music in different styles, and for anyone looking for mixing and mastering check out http://www.warlockstudios.co.uk/ he does all my mastering and I’ve worked with him loads over the years, he’s super talented! 

Thanks again!

~

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Purchase ‘Negative Atonal Dissonance’ on CD and digital from Bandcamp/Transcending Obscurity Records here and keep an eye on Tenebrae Sumus Records for cassette pre-orders here


‘Perpetual Consciousness Nightmare’ available on digital, CD and cassette from the Life As A Dream Bandcamp page here.


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Support MRTVI:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Support Deinonychus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bandcamp Misanthropy – Volume 14

The bottomless wellspring of Bandcamp is overflowing with great shit just waiting to be discovered. This series aims to shine light on the freshest emanations and foulest incantations from its darkest corners, a few artists at a time. Here’s the fourteenth installment for your vulgar delectation. Enjoy. 

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Artist: Ashen Throat

Year: 2017

And with a depraved, hellish howl; we’re off. UK atmospheric/depressive project Ashen Throat has conjured its first demo and it’s a capable debut offering. Not much is known about these enigmas, but the duo of J and Luke Powell describe their work as “Belching draconian fire in open revolt against nihilism, self doubt, depression and the modern world as we know it“. Sounds good to me.

While there isn’t too much here that you haven’t heard before, what is here is done well. ‘Breathing Black Fire’ is four solid tracks of raw, cold second-wave influenced melody with vocals echoing from the womb of the earth itself. When the depressive elements are in full flight it’s akin to experiencing emotional death, but it’s also possessed of an icy elemental fury that bursts pleasingly from your speakers. The production is great for a demo, with just the right amount of oppressive density versus chilling instrumental clarity. Third rite ‘Axis’ brings surprises in the form of a short folksy intro with sounds of someone walking through a woods and faintly triumphant synthetic horns buried deep in the mix; both work well and help with immersion into the oppressive nature of the material while closing track ‘Temple’ proves to be the most furious on offer and eventually devolves into some chilling throatwork. The screams at 4:45 onwards are notable too. I particularly dig the vocals on this entire release; when they experiment further than the usual DSBM howl or echoing, black-as-pitch rasp they often succeed, coming across as genuinely unhinged and tortured.

Overall, a well balanced debut demo that you can tell is a cathartic experience for both artist and listener, and that at name-your-price download is worth the 20-odd minutes of your time. Support.

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Artist: Mylingar

Year: 2016

I’m full of rage, father. Murderous urges. I don’t just hate this man. 

I hate all men. 

I hate life.

This shrapnel-blast of utter destruction came out amidst the dying embers of 2016, shortly before BMD was birthed into painful existence. I wanted to include it now not only because it absolutely fucking murders and the fact that it’s up for name-your-price download is unbelievable, but also because upon recently revisiting it I made the exciting discovery that they have a new album in the works, and the gentlemanly thing to do is to alert the general public so women, children and those of a weak constitution can take the necessary precautions. 

I’ll keep the warning short: Mylingar’s ‘Döda Vägar’ (“Dead Roads”) is five abusive tracks of grinding black death punishment that want nothing more than for you and everyone around you to take a dirt nap. These Swedish beasts reach a similar level of disgust and hatred as Anaal Nathrakh or Dragged Into Sunlight, final blow ‘Friheten’ alone will make you want to take on the whole human race and commit genocide with a blunt shovel.

Pulverising drumming, savage riffs and contemptuous vocals; it has it all, and I love this shit. If you missed it when it first dropped you have absolutely zero excuse to not check it out now and get acquainted. Grab it for whatever you like from their Bandcamp, or snap up a physical copy here from Amor Fati Productions. Sheer brutality in audio form.

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Artist: Brood In Black

Year: 2017

Sometimes, unfortunately, things fall through the cracks. I get a lot of mail here, my list of releases to check out is never shorter than Gary Ridgway’s victims list, and despite my best efforts sometimes a release or recommendation slips by unintentionally. The demo from fresh USBM act Brood In Black is one of those things; it was sent to me many months ago and I only rediscovered it in my inbox the other day whilst searching for something else. Sincerest apologies.

Anyway. After an industrial pitch shifted intro, titular opening track ‘Arrival of Death’ kicks into what this release is all about and will stick to through the entirety of its length: Raw, totally primitive, black-fucking-metal. Like listening to early 90s demos style raw; no flashy shit, just archetypal blood-dripping evil for the sake of it. Each track is like unearthing an old rehearsal tape from some hitherto unheard of obscure band at the birth of their existence. Seriously, if you want a nostalgia trip back to when the earliest bands full of youthful exuberance picked up their instruments and just bashed it out in the name of the dark lord, you might just find it here. They even have hand copied and hand drawn tapes for sale.

It may seem like I haven’t really touched on the actual music or songs themselves, but if you know what I’m talking about so far then you know what to expect. I’m interested to see where this project goes, are we seeing the embryonic stages of a new great act? Who knows. Bring the hell, fellas. Up for name-your-price download. Hail Satan.

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Artist: Sadness

Year: 2017

I’m throwing this in here real quick because prolific DSBM/post-black melancholist Sadness has a freshly released new EP for your ears, and is also running a handy promotion: All 18 of his top quality releases are set at name-your-price download until the codes run out. 

‘Sun Into Water’ is his latest EP that was released on October 24th and will apparently serve as a lead-in to a future full length release, but it’s an exquisite piece all on its own. Still heading in the more blackgaze direction of his recent work, it’s comprised of two lengthy, beautiful tracks slathered lavishly in airy melodies and ethereal synths simply made to carry you away into the mists of reminiscence.

In the interests of keeping this short, I’ll just say: everything this guy has done is fantastic. If you enjoy the soothing and soul-rending sounds of melancholia but haven’t yet immersed yourself in this stunning project; rectify this immediately and snatch all of those releases before the downloads run out. Perfect for those lonely, introspective nights. Or anytime at all, really.

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Artist: Waal

Year: 2017

The Icelandic scene really has become the modern-day version of the Norwegian ’90s. A veritable torrent of ultimate quality black metal releases seems to pour from the region in a near constant stream; I’ve no idea what’s in the water over there, but it’s fucking great and seems to go from strength to strength. One of the latest acts to blossom from the fertile soil is Waal, and presented here is their debut two track EP ‘Ruminations’ for our consideration. 

Posessed of an earnest, cold rawness and atonality, the opening salvo ‘Stoned By Reflection’ lashes from the gates in hypnotic, undulating fashion while second track ‘Void and Passion’ writhes in a seething, menacing consternation. Both the song and EP titles themselves aptly describe the tumultuous descent and violent introspection contained within this release, as it worms its way into your mind it instigates an internal regression to a deeper darker state where you can’t be held accountable for your actions.

Short though it may be, I can’t praise this release highly enough. From the songwriting to the sound it strikes an obscure chord within and is incredibly addictive. I’ve often found myself listening to both tracks on loop for hours on end and never once tiring of the experience. Whatever your secrets are, I hope you’ve made peace with them because this EP will drag you in and spiral you down to depths you never wanted to reach again. 

Embrace it.

A limited cassette edition in folded black card is available through Mysterion, or you can drop a measly couple of dollars on a digital copy from their Bandcamp below.

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Artist: Croc Noir

Year: 2017

I had an odd moment when I received this EP in my inbox; being Australian, the word ‘Croc’ calls to mind crocodiles. Up to this point in my life, crocodiles are not something I’d naturally associated with black metal. Perfunctory Googling did not shine any further light on the matter aside from the information that Croc Noir is a jungle level on World of Warcraft and also translates to ‘Black Croc’ in the band’s native French tongue; so failing the possibilty that they’re hardcore gamers perhaps Croc Noir really are working to thrust ancient reptiles into the misanthropic gloom of the black metal spectrum. If so, hails to them.

Linguistic differences and rambling digressions aside, the duo have created an interesting release in ‘Nuit’ (“Night”). A shamanistic introduction does in fact conjure images of the jungle before ‘Charogne’ kicks in to stoic yet disaffected second-wave style darkness. It’s enjoyable, but it’s on tracks like the following ‘Ruine’ where they really shine for me. Touching on a sedate-yet-tormented DSBM style which allows the disaffected, distant nature of the production to come into its own, it’s easily my favourite track on here and when they return after a couple of hate-filled diversions to a more depressive style on final track ‘Décharné’ it’s also astoundingly good and virtually drips with despair. An excellent way to end the EP, with both tracks in particular deserving of many repeat listens. 

Out for about four months now and their second release overall, it suffers a little from appearing a slightly disjointed collection of good ideas rather than a coherent killer journey, but there is definitely a lot to like here and subsequent releases will only improve in that aspect. The more I hear it the more it creeps its way into my brain. I’m sure it’ll do the same to you in no time. 

The gentlemen generously have both of their EP’s up at name-your-price download from their Bandcamp below, or you can perform a death-roll on a CD compilation of both until it dies at Wolfspell Records. Tapes are also covered through Corde Raide Productions.

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Artist: Kralle

Year: 2017

Straight up: If you want to hear why I’ve included the debut demo from US one man raw atmospheric project Kralle in this Volume, go directly to third track ‘A Cold Burial’ and press play. 

Released back in June the rest of ‘Demo MMXVII’ certainly has some good moments (bar the intro, which doesn’t really add too much value and I’m not a huge fan of well known film/comic villain dialogue samples in black metal; the quote itself may be fitting but you can’t help but picture the character saying it which detracts from the experience) and closing track ‘Frozen Nights in the Tundra of Isolation’ is also a decent slab of icy northern blackness, but he totally nails it on ‘A Cold Burial’. 

A dysphoric, detached waltz through wastelands of hopelessness and agonies so deep-seated they’ve become a dull ache; it’s moving stuff that honestly feels like you’re wandering through monochrome dead forests searching for a place to lay down in the snow and die. Think a rawer, more depressing version of Burzum’s ‘Dunkelheit’ and you’re heading in the right direction.

Overall, not a perfect release but there’s a certainly lot of of promise here and if he can bottle the magic of ‘A Cold Burial’ or decides to go even rawer on further offerings it will be a sight to behold. There were a limited run of tapes available but they’ve since sold out; luckily it’s also up for name-your-price download.

Edit: Just found out he has a fresh new split release dropping on Halloween. More Kralle incoming.

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Artist: Blattaria 

Year: 2017

Nightmare tumbling through unfettered kaleidoscope dreamscapes, slashed by a thousand knives as the rivers of blood raining from your wounds crystallize into whirling spiral galaxies around your flailing form. If this sounds appealing, by all means dive right in to the maniacal debut full length from hellish US psychedelic/experimental project Blattaria (“Cockroaches”). 

This self-titled slice of insanity is the work of sole sadist Manuel Garcia, whose vocals roar like a man constantly being torn apart and violently reassembled incorrectly over and over again in an infinite loop. Atonality and dissonance are key here as he wields tumbling, paranoid horrors to induce a state of near constant anxiety and fear; have you ever seen Dario Argento’s classic Suspiria? It’s a masterfully done film  where even something as simple as a character walking across a room can have your heart in your mouth and eyes wide in terror, and he achieves a similar effect here. Even the quieter passages are infused with a subversive, skittering panic. It’s nihilistic in the extreme; we are all nothing more than cockroaches and Blattaria know it. Something of a nice surprise too is the fact that Jacob Buczarski of Mare Cognitum fame was behind the mixing desk on this one, and he’s done an exceptional job; every note of the avant-garde mayhem sounding crystal clear as it tears strips off your grey matter. 

Released on October 19th this isn’t an album you simply listen to, but one you must live through or endure, and it’s refreshing to hear a release that inspires such genuine psychological fear in the listener. Both a cassette and LP edition are available here from Fallen Empire Records, but it’s also up at name-your-price download from his Bandcamp below. Enter if you dare. Pure art.

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Submissions for possible inclusion in future Volumes are welcomed.

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Fólkvangr Records Pagan Black Metal Mini-Spotlight

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

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Artist: Forefather

Year: 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

~

Artist: Lóstregos

Year: 2017

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

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

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


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

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

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

~

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

Submissions welcomed.

Annunaki Rising – An Interview with Sar Isatum 

Sar Isatum are not messing about. When this preview track by the US trio of JP Dalkhu, Damothi and CC landed in my inbox my eye was immediately caught by their use of Sumerian themes; upon checking out the music itself I was far from disappointed. Great symphonic black does not find its way onto my radar as often as it should these days but the ritualistic drumming leading into a blistering, well produced assault of technical obsidian majesty felt like a clarion-call charge into battle and served well as a savage statement of intent. So, being a fan of both Sumerian mythology and good black metal, I was intrigued enough to investigate further and shoot off a few quick questions before the full-length debut ‘Shurpu’ descends upon the Earth. Luckily, the gentlemen were happy to oblige. Have a listen to the eponymous preview track and opening salvo from the upcoming album below, and read on for a fleeting glimpse into the mythos and minds of Sar Isatum.

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Greetings Sar Isatum, thanks for speaking to us. First, some history: What is Sar Isatum as an entity, where did it come from and what is its purpose?

– Sar Isatum came to be as a musical force with the intent to make an intense and ethereal experience to the listener and an intense live performance and force to be reckoned with within the black metal realm. Our purpose is to personally conquer our musical creation and combine different elements within the genre.

You’re about to unleash your debut intonation upon the earth, ‘Shurpu’. Shurpu means ‘Purification by Fire’; in Sumerian, your emblem Sar Isatum means ‘King of Fire’ and the lyrics are inspired heavily by the Sumerian empire. Can you explain the use of Sumerian mythology behind the album and its importance to you?

– The Sumerian topic has always been interesting and it is a topic that not a lot of black metal bands represent and/or write about. Sumerian metaphysical and spiritual ideas also pre-date Christianity and have a dark occult nature to them, so we gravitate towards that rather than the topics that are overdone in today’s black metal.

There’s some great symbolic cover art from Mindrape Art as well, continuing the apocalyptic fire theme. What was it like to work with him, are you pleased with the result?

– We are highly pleased with what Mark did for our cover, I personally have worked with him for many years with other bands and he always delivers an amazing and fitting art. For this cover I sent him the finished album and explained our lyrical content and what we were looking for; needless to say, he envisioned exactly what we had envisioned ourselves. Mark Cooper is an art genius.

The eponymous preview track ‘Sar Isatum’ sounds like a call to arms. Is there a particular reason you selected this track as an introduction?

– We wanted to capture our listener with the first track to release to the public; a song that best represents the band, album, and the different elements that we apply to our writing.

There’s also what appears to be a demo for another great album track on YouTube, ‘Celestial Diaspora’, which sounds altogether colder. What can we expect to hear from the rest of the album?

– That was the demo track we released when the band was created. The album in itself has variation within the songs, we don’t intent to copy any band and we use our different influences to write music and you will be able to tell in this album. At the same time we are always working on evolving musically and do not intent to always sound a certain way.

The album was produced at Sawn & Quartered studios. How did you find the process, and is the final sound exactly as you envisioned?

– Shane Howard is a professional producer and it was great working with someone that knows exactly what a band wants when he’s presented with the music before the recording process. He was able to capture the sound we wanted for this release and we are planning to work with him once again in the future.

You’ve had some shows recently with the likes of Uada and Inquisition. How has the reception been to the material in a live setting?

– We have been received rather well, we have left a mark in the Denver black metal scene and we have created a great following in the short period of time we have been performing live. We just got picked to play with Belphegor, Cryptopsy, and Hate for a show on November 19th.

What’s the state of the Black Metal scene in Colorado? Are there any other underground artists you believe deserve more attention? 

– It’s a growing scene, a supporting scene and it’s definitely one of the best USBM scenes in the country. There’s many amazing bands in Colorado but the ones right now that deserve the recognition are our friends in Mount Cairn and Crafteon, great bands, go listen to them.

Are you currently shopping the album around to labels? Any word on when we can expect a release?

– We are casually shopping around but as of now we have not found the right deal and label to call home, so it’s looking like we will self release the album. Web release date is set for November 20th and the CD release will be on December 21st.

What lies in the future of Sar Isatum? Have you started writing for the next album, and will the Sumerian inspiration continue through future releases?

– Yes, we have started writing new material and as of now we have not made the decision to only continue with the Sumerian inspiration. We don’t want to limit our music and lyrics to one subject.

And lastly: Do you believe the Annunaki will return?

– I believe it is a possibility; to me, it’s more believable that we were created by an alien species than a bearded God.

Sincerest thanks for your time. Any final words?

Thank you for the interview and check out our pages in Youtube, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Instagram and Facebook.

~

Pre-Order the debut album ‘Shurpu’ from the Bandcamp link below.

Support Sar Isatum:

~

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

Transmuting Darkness – An Interview With Theurgia

Music, and sound itself, can be a powerful catalyst. Innumerable studies have taken place regarding the effect listening to it can have on your emotions, moods, concentration, IQ, learning ability, even its utilisation as pain relief. Sonic waves have been used as a weapon, certain sub-audial infrasound frequencies can induce physical sickness. Then there is the ritualistic aspect; since time immemorial music and rhythm has been used to aid in occult and spiritual works, acting as a conduit and facilitator for certain energies or altering the physical and metaphysical planes as an energy itself. For Theurgia, this is an integral part of their stunning debut album ‘Transformation’. 

Formed in Venezuela 2014 from the ashes of Daemonhorn before relocating to Columbia, Theurgia take the energy of music and sound and wield it masterfully to achieve their dark goals. Whereas their great 2015 EP ‘Anti-Perpetuo’ was straight up second wave black fire, ‘Transformation’ melds the second and more avant-garde third waves with equal savage influence and walks the fine line between being a ripping black metal album and a ritual, subversively infiltrating every fibre and atom of your being, inviting them to vibrate at a higher level.

The album has an incredible dynamic flow from beginning to end. The more you listen the more it works on you, altering your consciousness. The cataclysmic fury, the transcendent rhythms, verses and chords; whether you realise it or not, you come out the other side irrevocably changed. The album transforms you.

Released on 16th August through Throats Productions, Worship Tapes and Esfinge De La Calavera, it’s a superb work of devotional mysticism that hopefully won’t fly under the radar for much longer. This deserves to be experienced. We were incredibly privileged to sit down with main composer Daemonae to delve deeper into the album and its esoteric power. Prepare yourself, and read on below.

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Greetings Daemonae, sincerest thanks for your time. I’ve recently had the pleasure of an aural assault from your magnificent debut full-length ‘Transformation’. From the title to the lyrical content, the theme of this album leans towards metamorphosis and transcendence. Is this symbolic of any internal changes within you or the band?

– I’m so grateful to you for taking the time to listen to us, my friend. 
TRANSFORMATION has affected, in a positive way, in all members perceptions. I have an absolute deep liberation of my spirit in the moment of translating a word and a rhythm for this album. Every idea captured on it is a kinesthetic fluency; something I cannot describe in words, but maybe I can describe it with this album.

The album as a whole is fascinatingly infused with an almost devotional, ritualistic quality, and the name ‘Theurgia’ is taken from the Lesser Key of Solomon Book II, ‘Ars Theurgia Goetia’. Do you follow any particular spiritual paths or philosophy as individuals?

– Hellbeats walks on his own path, influenced by existentialism, he is just a simple guy but very focused on his dogmas. Mortum P. and Teuterastus are more influenced by Satanism, which I respect. I am a soul hungry for the truth. Today I have a strong inclination for the Aghori ideology, Spiritism, Luciferian Occultism. But my mind exclaims that nothing is enough and everything must be questioned in every way.

It’s a powerful release, you can feel it having an almost physical effect on you as you listen. Do you believe black metal, or music in general, has the ability to affect/alter reality or mental states to the point of eliciting transformation?

– Your own voice is a constant flow of frequencies, some not detected by one’s ear. Other frequencies affect our psyche positively or negatively (as you wish to use).

Lately I’ve been very deep on these experiences, on how my own voice can vibrate my cranial cavity causing a state of relaxation on my brain, helping me make a deeper meditation.

Music is a flow of feelings, feelings that you can touch under those frequencies. Frequencies that transform you and make you feel what that person wanted to carve into the song, or the album. And yes, I believe the music can transform us (Black Metal and any music genre).

Your great 2015 EP ‘Anti Perpetuo’ was composed entirely by you, while this time we see a collaborative effort in the writing stage. How did you find that change in the creative process and any resulting effects on your sound?

– Nothing has changed, brother. I’m still creating all the music of THEURGIA in every aspect. This album was written about 2 years ago, but we had to stop recording it. And this is due to our relocation in Colombia (I mean Hellbeats and myself). In just a few months, we recorded the album in Fenix Estudio in Barranquilla / Colombia.

But in this case, the collaboration of Hellbeats on drums was fundamental to the album. Giving him an aggressive and heavy sound he was looking for.

Despite the influence of both second and third wave styles in your sound you’ve never appeared to conform to any typical sonic or image based standards, and always operate on your own terms. Is this something you’ve consciously sought to cultivate in the band?

– This theorem it is create under this dogma, something that has persisted since we started. A way to lose our spirits in an eternal sea, hidden on cosmic energy, flowing our energy together into a blackened galaxies. 

No Corpse-Paint, no Inverted Crosses, No Goat headless, Long Spikes!

I respect a lot of those bands that follow these same stereotypes. Even more if this bands carry this on, all the fucking life. But I don’t wanna be the same.

From where do you derive inspiration while you write? Were there any specific pieces of music, art, or visions that influenced the conceptualization and creation of this album?

– I have been more influenced by cultures like the Aghori for their adoration and love of death, their vision of the flesh is obsolete, life must be measured by their spirituality as a whole.

In Tibet and Mongolia, by the connection with Spiritual & low frequencies, a totally hermetic knowledge.

Other philosophies or doctrines such as hyperdimensionalities, Kabbalah, Alchemy, Astrology, etc. Some authors like Zecharia Sitchin, Samael Aun Weor and I’m very much influenced by H.P. LOVECRAFT.

Maybe you’re asking, why?

Because I am a faithful believer that Howard did not just write science fiction. There was a lot of reality hidden in his writings. For example: Dagon/Enki and the origin of this water world (influence of ILV – THE VERB OF WATERS).

The album has been released on tape through Worship Tapes and soon on digipack CD through Throats Productions. Worship Tapes in particular does some fantastic work handcrafting his products, are you happy with both labels? Any plans for a vinyl release in future?

– In this case, the tape was released by Worship Tapes and ESFINGE DE LA CALAVERA from Spain. The work besides of these labels has been rewarding. All of them are magnificent lovers of “devout metal” so to speak. I have had incredible support on our short road. In the case of THROATS PRODUCTIONS, they have been a heavy support to promote TRANSFORMATION in every unimaginable way. The work of all labels has been impeccable and faithful.

And I hope this alliance continues for many years more!

The physical editions of the album contain a stirring bonus cover of Dissection’s classic track ‘Retribution – Storm of the Light’s Bane’. Why cover this particular song, what special meaning does it hold for you?

– This track was recorded for a tribute album. But for some strange reason (that I still do not know) it has not concreted as of yet. I was not informed more about it. In order to not lose it, we took the decision of including it on the album as a bonus track.

More than a tribute, it is a thorn that should be drawn. For years I always wanted to make a tribute to Dissection. For me, Storm of the Light’s Bane is a big influence.

Link: https://www.facebook.com/atributetodissection/

The cover is an great piece of art by John Quevedo Janssens, in perfect synergy with your created work. Is it better than you imagined? What was it like to work with him?

– I did not expect that art to be so magnificent.

John worked with me on the album of my other band (Funebria), performing the art of our last album DEKATHERION. Realizing an incredible art. Upon this magnificent artwork I made the decision to work with him on the art for TRANSFORMATION.

A great friend with incredible talent, no doubt.

The last track is not only the final part of a numbered trilogy of songs (Procesio IV, V and VI) but has the only Spanish-language lyrics on the album. Is there any significance to this?

– I’m a big fan of Spanish lyrics with a grammar and a solid concept.

In Anti Perpetuo, all subjects were in Spanish except one. Many people in Europe thought that we should create the lyrics in English and, well… It was something that we didn’t ignore in this work. But I will never deny my native language since I love writing good lyrics in Spanish and so far, this has left me great satisfaction.

The band was originally from Venezuela but has now relocated to Columbia; many excellent artists have come from both over the years. Selbst is a personal favourite of late. Are there any other local acts that you believe deserve more exposure?

– The situation in our country is really heavy, and that shit starts to create a very unstable tension in people’s minds. This situation has strengthened black metal bands and some others are born under the path of the occult.

Bands like VeldravethIgni DareSagothSelbstGutirothSeoj. I could say that Funebria, and other new projects such as Nox DesperatioMonarchianvs Clavstrvm CastificatioNekro Cvlt Desecration. For me, one of the best projects born of the Orthodox style in Venezuela is MORITURIO. Which I highly recommend.

After letting loose this incredible work of nihilistic, hermetic and ascendant majesty upon the world: what is next for Theurgia? 

– Our devotion to the darkness and death will remain eternal. We’ll return to the place where we came from, the womb of our mother death. Exhaling his glorious words.

Our next work may be a heavier version of TRANSFORMATION. For the moment we have not thought of writing something new. But I can tell you that we have a SPLIT programmed to be released with very close band from our native country and a re-edition of ANTI PERPETUO, maybe a Studio Album (with No-Sequenced Drums).

Sincerest thanks again, your time is very much appreciated. Any final words?

– I hugely appreciate your support for spreading our words for your continent. I invite to all the readers of Black Metal Daily to remain very attentive to the news of THEURGIA. 

All the best to you!

~

Purchase ‘Transformation’ on CD from Throats Productions here and on cassette from either Worship Tapes here or Esfinge De La Calavera here.

Support Theurgia:

~

Like Black Metal Daily on Facebook for more kvlt sounds and tonal blasphemy.

Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com 

Bandcamp Misanthropy – Volume 13

The bottomless wellspring of Bandcamp is overflowing with great shit just waiting to be discovered. This series aims to shine light on the freshest emanations and foulest incantations from its darkest corners, a few artists at a time. Here’s the thirteenth installment for your vulgar delectation. Enjoy. 

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Artist: Void Tendril

Year: 2017

First up in a cluster of releases I’ve been immensely enjoying: Uk blackened doom duo Void Tendril have just dropped their first ever demo ‘Ensnaring the Demiurge’. For an embryonic first recording it’s a doozy; the four tracks as a whole are a raw, crushing experience with a great sense of melody and an inherent theatricality or ‘storytelling’ vibe to both the vocals and composition that captivates for the entire 30 minute length. 

‘A Crone’s Reptilian Eye’ is a suitable introduction to the wiles of their ways with some absolutely killer riffs massaging your mind, before the misery really begins to hit home on second track ‘Shivering Residue’. Everything gets darker and more intense, the harmonized vocals between the two are a noteworthy addition and when that flows into the artfully morose layered guitar that closes out the track you know these fellas are on to something special. It only gets better from there too as the last two tracks ‘The Vampyric Embrace of Flame’ and ‘The Hourglass Catacomb’ pull you deeper into the abyss; the latter taking my pick for tune of the bunch.

I should also mention the cover art is a great evocative piece from Stephen Wilson/Unknown Relic, superbly meshing the demo’s concept with an expansion of the tarot card ‘The Tower’. I’m already a huge fan of his work, go check it out if you haven’t already. The whole package is soon to be released on cassette by Rat King Records UK, but for now grab yourself a name-your-price download and be ensnared by the searching grasp of the Void Tendril.

~

Artist: Prison of Mirrors

Year: 2017

Pure satanic devotion in black metal form. Occult Italian triumvirate Prison of Mirrors released their first great EP ‘Nothing’ back in 2014 and they’ve now followed up with an reverential new two-track of unholy vehement rites, ‘Unstinted, Delirious, Convulsive Oaths’.

From the very first seconds of opener ‘Wounds of Radical Abnegation’, their statement is perilously clear. Spectacularly impious riffing spider-crawls under a percussive assault so thick you can almost feel the blows, weaving a sorcery both horrifying and irresistibly mesmerising. Lord Svart’s vocals are also a feature as his otherworldly, haunting rasp seeps from the abyss behind the cacophony; delivering paeans, curses and dark blessings alike.

The EP, over the course of its two lengthy compositions, feels laid out like a ritual. If the first track is worship and calling the dark light into you, then second offering ‘Litany of Consecration’ is the feeling of having entered into the necessary transcendent state. It crackles with diabolical essence. The powers have been drawn, the work must be done; welding and weaving the forces, bending them to your will and that of the master. It takes the honours of track of the EP for me, the atmosphere and fury inherent in this is nothing short of electric.

Recorded at Sonic Temple Studio and mastered by Stephen Lockhart at Studio Emissary, everything sounds incredible and I highly recommend you spend some time immersed in its intricate arcane mysteries. Released on cassette through the dual forces of Signal Rex and De Essentia Diaboli you can grab a physical copy through either of those esteemed establishments; or score a name-your-price download through Signal’s Bandcamp below/support them directly for 2€ through their own Bandcamp here

~

Artist: Nowhere

Year: 2017

You may recall I featured raw one-man US destroyer Wojtek’s project Nowhere on his split with Dead and Grey (who also has another EP on the way at the end of October in a little cross-promotion for those interested) back in Volume 9; well, the new single from his upcoming album ‘Eternal Black, Infinite Void’ landed in my inbox a short time ago, so I figured I’d squeeze it in here.

The track ‘All Hail the Void’ represents two significant changes: a revamp to a somewhat denser, more chaos inducing sound and someone else behind the producer’s desk for the very first time. Myrdin Cerphas from Revelation None and Synodic is twiddling the knobs here and the result is noticeable, the raw essence of Nowhere’s assault is still very intact but now it’s a blistering skin-flaying maelstrom. Wojtek’s creative and at times disturbing guitar work sounds great and his vocals have never been better; the song itself is a muscular, serpentine hell-trip that flows into a bleak, warped acoustic section for the last minute and a half. A suitable close out for the scathing pandemonium that preceeded it, the cherry on top of a track that’s probably the best material I’ve heard from him yet.

All in all it’s an interesting development from the Nowhere camp and one that leaves me intrigued to hear the rest of the album when it drops next year. If you’re into raw chaos, show some support for a single dollar from his Bandcamp below and help him get this thing made.

~

Artist: Ulg

Year: 2017

If you’re in any way a fan of atmospheric black don’t even bother reading this, go straight down and hit that download link at the bottom. If for some reason you still need convincing or just have some time to kill while you’re in the waiting room at the clinic or something, then by all means, read on.

Ulg’s debut release ‘Windark’ is one I didn’t know I was craving until I heard it. Released back in January but somehow escaping my attention until now, sole member J. Marshall has crafted four “odes to mystic naturalism and the folklore of the wilderness” and each and every one is simply stunning. He spends the majority of his time in the wild and it shows, his compositions bleed sincerity, reverence and awe from every note. If I had to draw a lazy comparison I’d say it’s similar to Russians Walknut or possibly Ygg, but that would be doing the material a disservice. Artfully restrained rhythmic drumming from session man Vladyslav Usyk provides the perfect backbone and induces a trancelike state while the majestic layered guitars effortlessly tap into the spirit, danger, shadow and mystery of the natural world. The sound is simple and effective, raw but not totally underdone. Both repetition and melody are utilised with skill, all tracks will likely have you spellbound from beginning to end. Hell, I could listen to ‘Eternal Winter’ alone for days on end and not get tired of it.

I’d hurl my wallet at any label without hesitation to get my hands on a physical of this and I’m sure many others would too, so hopefully someone steps up to the plate and gives this release the treatment it deserves. He’s also as I type this putting the finishing touches on his follow up album due out in January 2018, so rejoice; not long to wait for more of this goodness.

Oh and did I mention he records all his vocals outdoors, immersed in the solitude of the forest? He does. If I haven’t convinced you yet, just grab a name-your-price download anyway and let the music do the talking. Hails.

~

Artist: Graveflowers

Year: 2017

Enigmatic raw USBM act Graveflowers released their third bouquet of scented laudations ‘The Hyacinth Garden’ just over a week ago. I don’t know much about these artists (or artist?), but they call their sound ‘experiments in nocturnal sound and energy’. Well, they’ve nailed the nocturnal part: What instantly came to mind listening to this was Ulver’s seminal classic collection of hymns to the night, ‘Nattens Madrigal’.

Which isn’t saying it’s a straight rip. I mean that more as as compliment. There are many similarities between the two: from the short acoustic interludes to the almost nakedly harsh sound, to the composition of the tracks themselves (tracks like ‘Fear Death By Water’ definitely hark back to the old Norwegian style). Even the folksy natural undertones are present, although switch out Ulver’s Norwegian woods for a more Americana-infused influence. 

They have the experimental part of their descriptor covered too. Their last EP ‘Oleander’ (released four years back, also good) had a heavy noise influence which they’ve toned down this time, but ‘Then Spoke the Thunder’ for example waltzes into earthy post rock/black territory and fucking owns it. On the flip side of that, ‘April is the Cruelest Month’ is total, intense, paranoia inducing terror.

Whoever they are, they’ve sucessfully upped the ante from their previous releases in every aspect; this is an excellent EP. Or mini album, the eight superb tracks on show clock in at a total of twenty-one minutes combined. Check it out at name-your-price download from their Bandcamp with their other releases, tapes are also available from Path of Silence. Great stuff.

~

Artist: Voidcraeft 

Year: 2017

This is pure quality. German microtonal mentalist Voidcraeft has just conjured his fifth slab of furious insanity, ‘Indoctrination of Emptiness’; up for free download as usual. This time around he’s collaborated with US ambient/black metal artist Agonanist and the result is nothing short of mind blowing.

Taking a similar path as Jute Gyte (but far blacker sonically), he also has some interesting and detailed diary-like liner notes on his Bandcamp, describing the release and its creation. I’ll lift some of them here: 

“…I was fascinated by the idea of using dreams as a source of inspiration because I was also reading lots of psychoanalytic drivel by C.G. Jung at the time – most of which I consider highly pseudoscientific in nature, I must add. In fact, I tried to imitate him for a while and started making notes on my own dreams, right after waking up at night. This process is supposed to preserve the narrative of the dream with greater accuracy. I can attest to its necessity. 

My most vivid account from that period was a dream in which a procession of people were accompanying me and a brown cow to a table that resembled the one in the painting The Last Supper. Somebody had placed a colourful crown of flowers on the head of the cow. Nobody spoke a word. Other than the shuffling of our feet, there was no sound to be heard. The expression on their faces was one of complete apathy. It was an eerie atmosphere. They had me take the seat of Jesus in the painting. One of the women milked the cow and placed the bowl of milk in front of me. Then she took the crown and placed it on my head. It seemed like a festive moment but nobody applauded or said a word. I knew they were honouring me for something but I was unable to tell what it was. I drank the milk and placed the empty bowl before me. 

At that point, the dream ended and I could not sleep for another four hours. What does it mean? Are these the religious delusions of an atheist? Hardly so…”

They get far more technical and weirder than that too, just like his music. He has several other releases of intense atmospheric black experimentalism also up for name-your-price download on his Bandcamp, all with fascinating backstory (his previous release ‘Dogma’ is based on a set of composition rules he imposed upon himself after an email exchange with Luciano of I, Voidhanger Records about the Dogme 95 Manifesto of Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg). A compelling artist that’s well worth investigating; I won’t say much more, start here and dive in.

~

Submissions for possible inclusion in future Volumes welcomed.

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Festival Spotlight: Black Mourning Light (Edmonton, AB Canada)

There are a million fests out there with dozens more of varying quality popping up every single day. Black Mourning Light of Edmonton, Alberta Canada landed in my inbox last week and upon investigation I was struck not only by the sweet poster and impressive lineup, but also the attitude and passion of organiser Dustin Ekman. The man loves his music and is genuinely excited about what he does, not only organising and running this successful fest now in its third year but as the creator of Crown of Viserys, a promotional site that goes far and beyond the average.

As does his festival. This year running on the 13th and 14th of October, previous Black Mourning Lights have included nice touches like the option to hang around for a group breakfast with all the artists the next day, dubbed ‘The Mourning After’. A meet and greet? Fuck it, have a chill breakfast and nurse your hangover talking shit with your favourite band. Now that’s a good festival experience.

With this year’s lineup featuring Revenge, Blasphemy, Fortress, The Projectionist, Rites of Thy Degringolade and many other excellent artists, we somehow convinced Dustin to take a breather for five minutes and tell us a bit about the fest, Crown of Viserys and give a little advice for anyone looking to start their own festival. So take a look at the promo clip for Black Mourning Light 2017, and read on below.

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Hey Dustin! Hope you’re well, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. The next assembling of Black Mourning Light is near at hand and you have two absolute heavyweights in Blasphemy and Revenge as headliners, among other great black, death and doom acts! You must be pumped about the lineup this year, any particular favourites?

– I am super stoked on this year’s fest. It is going to be batshit crazy. I’m excited to see the big guns of course, Revenge and Blasphemy, but Rites of Thy Degringolade is a bucket list band achieved. I’m also excited to see Fortress, from Montana. This will be their first time in Canada, and they are not playing anywhere else in the country this year. 

The fest is now in its third year. What inspired its creation, and back then did you know it was going to be a success?

– Black Mourning Light was inspired by the lack of black metal and doom fests in Western Canada, a niche I now share with Covenant who also just celebrated their third year.

I had no idea it would be even remotely successful and in some ways I don’t call it completely successful. Success to me would mean an end, all my goals achieved. I have too many things I want to do with BML, too many amazing bands to bring to Edmonton. 

What can your average fest-goer expect this time around, are there any big new changes from the previous incarnations?

– The biggest change is the venue. Instead of Rendezvous Pub, we are at Starlite Room this year.

Also, the sheer size of the fest itself is a big change. I mean, realistically, fuckin’ Revenge man! They are huge in black metal, and with them is Blasphemy, making it truly a huge pair of unholy nights. 

Last year amongst others you had UADA destroying the stage, another incredible band. Is there a past BML performance that stands out and really sticks in your mind as absolutely killing it?

– From 2016 I’d have to say Helleborus. They are a band I listen to almost daily, and have since before getting them onto BML. 

From 2015 I’d have to say Numenorean, such an amazing depressive post black metal and wonderful people. 

Outside of organising the fest you somehow find time to do some more great work for the scene with Crown of Viserys. Can you tell us a little about that, and where people can find you?

– Some days I have no idea what Crown of Viserys is anymore, but you saying it is great work is very appreciated. 

CoV started as a vehicle for music reviews and interviews, and now it’s a combo of that and putting on shows. 

The best place to find Crown of Viserys is Facebook. 

www.facebook.com/crownofviserys

Where do you see the fest heading in future? Any grand plans?

– I can see BML growing into something bigger, a festival that has over a thousand attendees. And that is my grand plan, I guess, to build a festival that brings the biggest and best in black metal and doom and the unheard gems under one roof. 

If you could pick one black metal band to headline next year and they would come and play, any band in the world, past or present… Who you got?

– I’d love to get The 3rd Attempt or Endezzma, but I’d also be happy if UADA could return. 

What would you say to anyone out there thinking of starting up a similar festival in their local area? Any advice?

– Know your limits. Know what it is you want to do. Don’t do it because it’s cool or whatever. Do it because you love the music. Make sure you know what else is happening around you at the same time. I wasn’t paying attention in 2016 and had to compete with another more established festival, and I lost patrons to that. 

And finally, the big question: Is the Mourning After breakfast happening again this year?

– The Mourning After is not happening again this year, but it will return next year and every year after. 

Thanks for your time! Hope BML goes off this year. Any last words?

– Thank you for your support of BML and CoV by extension. If you or your readers are planning on coming, tickets are available directly through the Crown of Viserys Big Cartel at http://crownofviserys.bigcartel.com.

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FESTIVAL INFORMATION:

Oct 13 / 14 – Edmonton, AB @ Starlite Room – Tickets On Sale Now!

BML organizer Dustin Ekman comments:

“This year we are taking Black Mourning Light to a new level of brutality, and I couldn’t be more honoured to have true legends in black metal on the festival. Revenge and Blasphemy are two of the biggest names in black metal and with them are some of the best bands in the world to create an absolutely killer lineup. This is a year to not be missed, that’s for sure.”

Tickets are available at the following Edmonton locations: 

Starliteroom, Blackbyrd Myoozik, Rendezvous Pub and online at the following link:

One Day Ticket or Two Day Pass – https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1434131/ 

Tickets are $45 for one day, $75 for both days.

BML 2017 Line-Up:

Friday, October 13th

Blasphemy, Antichrist, Amphisbaena, The Lucifer Project, Fortress, Sorguinazia, Evilheart

Doors @ 5pm

Saturday, October 14th 

Revenge, Rites of Thy Degringolade, The Projectionist, Xul, Funeral of God, Scythra, Goathammer

Doors @ 4pm

For more info, please visit https://blackmourninglight.wordpress.com.

Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Youtube

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