May 25, 2017

Loss - Horizonless

By Nate Garrett. Within mere seconds of opening track “The Joy of All Who Sorrow,” it is apparent that Horizonless is an ambitious expansion upon the crushing, hopeless, and tragically beautiful elements that make Nashville’s Loss such a masterful funeral/death doom band.
By Nate Garrett.

Artwork by Adam Burke.

Within mere seconds of opening track “The Joy of All Who Sorrow,” it is apparent that Horizonless is an ambitious expansion upon the crushing, hopeless, and tragically beautiful elements that make Nashville’s Loss such a masterful funeral/death doom band. In the opening lines, vocalist/guitarist Mike Meacham’s howls are higher in pitch, a technique that exposes a raw and visceral emotional quality. Over the course of the album, Meacham employs these tortured shrieks, as well as several other vocal styles, to great effect. Which is the story of Horizonless in a nutshell… Loss is experimenting with new sounds and exploring new methods of devastating the listener sonically and psychically. The familiar trademarks are still here, such as the ultra-deep death gurgles, unresolved chords disintegrating and swirling across guitar tracks, driving bass lines, and massive drumming. Yet the band isn’t content to rely upon its tried-and-true methods. By the time the opening track climaxes in a chaotic black metal whirlwind, it’s even more obvious that these guys are pushing the boundaries of their comfort zone, and the results are spectacular.

The second track on the album, “I.O.” is the first of four interludes, each being the brainchild of a sole member. This first interlude is courtesy of drummer Jay LeMaire. The sequencing of the album is song, interlude, song, interlude and so on. Meacham’s is track four, bassist John Anderson’s is track six, and guitarist Tim Lewis’s is track eight. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that though Horizonless would hardly suffer without these tracks, they do add to the bleak vibe rather than detract from it, and they help to create an immersive experience. Lewis’s contribution “Banishment” most closely resembles a full-fledged song and is my personal favorite.

“All Grows on Tears” showcases some of my favorite things about this album. First of all, Loss fully utilizes both guitar players. In fact, the guitars are rarely playing the same thing. They slither and intertwine, forming harmonies, dissonance, and broader chords than just one guitarist is capable of producing. Meanwhile, the bass drives the root notes, embellishing only when it’s absolutely necessary and tasteful. In many ways, the string arrangements are more akin to classical music than any sort of rock or blues foundation. This approach could get messy in the hands of a lesser band, but Loss finds a way to never lose sight of the compelling chord progressions, even when the guitars are in the depths of a tonal maelstrom. The bass and drums are consistently locked in, which helps maintain a sense of familiarity. This song concludes with a surprisingly melodic progression that evokes nihilistic triumph in the midst of the omnipresent despair.

Melody is recurring throughout Horizonless, and is used expertly on every song on the album. “Naught” begins with a haunting clean section and by its conclusion reintroduces elements of black metal, mutating into possibly the most anguished track on the album. The title track is a standout, an epic dirge that again finds Meacham employing new vocal techniques. The biggest surprise of the album comes in the form of a clean vocal section. The chant-like, mournful singing accentuates the funereal nature of the music and is one of the most powerful moments of the record.

Album closer “When Death Is All” is as strong a conclusion as one could hope for. The introduction of guest vocalists Stevie Floyd, Wrest, and Billy Anderson (who also produced and engineered) results in an even broader, more vivid sonic pallet. The band drones on amidst a swirl of moans, eventually driving into a more mid-tempo assault featuring vocals that sound as if they’re being produced by an ancient, mummified corpse. To put the nail in the coffin, a single guitar establishes a tragic descending chord progression which the entire band sink into. Loss rides this passage to the bitter end, awash with harmonized vocals that seem to howl from the void, and a heartbreaking guitar lead as sad as anything the band has ever done.

Horizonless, for being as smothering, depressing, and bleak-sounding as it is, evokes a broad spectrum of genuine emotion. It carries the solemn weight of death, yet brims with stunning melody and triumph. Highly recommended.


Nate is Spirit Adrift, and plays guitar in Gatecreeper.
Tagged with 2017, death metal, funeral doom, Loss, Nate Garrett, Profound Lore Records

May 23, 2017

Wode - Servants of the Countercosmos

By Justin C. I know a lot of people were excited about Wode's self-titled album from just over a year ago, but it took me a little while to warm up to it. It seems strange to me looking back, because as Andy Synn wrote over on No Clean Singing
By Justin C.

Cover Painting by Mitchell Nolte.

I know a lot of people were excited about Wode's self-titled album from just over a year ago, but it took me a little while to warm up to it. It seems strange to me looking back, because as Andy Synn wrote over on No Clean Singing, Wode is "purely and unashamedly 'Black Metal' in nature – unsullied by time or trend, with no prefixes, suffixes, addendums..." If there's one metal subgenre that I'm the most accepting of (and I think we all have that one), it's black metal. Maybe I overlooked it because of its pureness. Maybe at that time I wanted something weird, with 13-minute-long songs with hurdy-gurdies and lyrics sung in a dead language. Who knows? But I've finally been sucked in by their no-nonsense charms.

With their new album, Servants of the Countercosmos, Wode hasn't broken into any new territories. This is still a band that plays straight-up black metal with just a hint of traditional heavy metal sensibility mixed in. The vocals are still a very satisfying rasp--satisfying in the same way that scratching an itch that you've been trying to ignore for two hours. The riffs are plentiful and memorable--the raging rumble punctuated with doomy melodicism that opens "Temple Internent" is a personal favorite, and there are plenty more where that came from.

What Wode has done with this new album is a slight refinement, and I think it's for the better. Most of the tracks on their new album run in the four-to-six-minute range, which I think suits their sound much better than the eight- and nine-minute tracks from their self-titled. I know that, even though I enjoyed the riffs in the last two tracks of the album, the album suffered a bit from being drawn out at the end. Even in the one case where they do go long on the new album, "Chaosspell," they've gone for a more refined structure that holds your interest over the track's length, leading very nicely into the acoustic "decompression" track that closes the album. Sometimes that kind of track can end up being an annoying non-entity, but this is one is subtle, delicate piece I'd feel comfortable playing in front of a classical guitar crowd.

Trying to find the balance between pushing forward while retaining what made you good in the first place is difficult at best, but I think Wode has done it here. If you liked their last one, they've given more of what they did so well, but at the same time they've tweaked the formula ever-so-slightly, but still to great effect.

Tagged with 2017, black metal, free download, Justin C, Wode

May 21, 2017

Wende - Vorspiel einer Philosophie der Zukunft

By Natalie Zina Walschots. The sense of isolation and mystery that pervades Wende, the solo project from multi-instrumentalist and compose Zamiel (who is also a member of the Chicago three-piece black metal project Skinwalker)
By Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published here by Exclaim.


The sense of isolation and mystery that pervades Wende, the solo project from multi-instrumentalist and compose Zamiel (who is also a member of the Chicago three-piece black metal project Skinwalker), would situate it perfectly within windswept, much-mythologized Scandinavian landscape. But instead of Norway, this deeply philosophical (but no less frostbitten) project is based deep in the woods of the Okanagan, in Washington.

Originally released in an extremely limited and hard-to-acquire format in 2011, the first full-length from Wende, Vorspiel einer Philosophie der Zukunft ("a prelude to the philosophy of the future") has finally been given a wider release, and deservedly so. The record is a strange construction, alternating between tracks of blisteringly acerbic, Burzum-like black metal and much more introspective, instrumental ambience. The effect is profoundly unsettling, but the sense of ebb and flow, construction and dissolution, suits the intellectual framework of the project well.

The one unifying aspect of the record is how cold it is; every riff is as merciless as flesh sticking to frozen metal. But the way the cold manifests can be profoundly different, from the deep cold vacuum of space evoked by the ambient tracks to the violent icy blasts of the more aggressive parts of the record. The environment conjured by Vorspiel einer Philosophie der Zukunft is unremittingly hostile, but also unquestioningly beautiful, if you can handle the threat of frostbite.

Tagged with 2011, atmospheric black metal, Moribund Records, Natalie Zina Walschots, Wende

May 20, 2017

Necromantia - Scarlet Evil Witching Black

An Autothrall Classic. Necromantia's use of the 8-string bass in place of the traditional 6-string guitar has made them a unique force in the black metal genre, especially when you consider how long they've stuck to the technique.
An Autothrall Classic. Originally published here.

Cover art by Panos Sounas

Necromantia's use of the 8-string bass in place of the traditional 6-string guitar has made them a unique force in the black metal genre, especially when you consider how long they've stuck to the technique. That is not to say Scarlet Evil Witching Black is entirely void of the traditional guitars; they are used here for acoustic moments as well as leads.

It stuns me how little this has any effect on the band's hell-spawning vitriol, because these are some of the most savage guitars ever committed to disc. Scarlet Evil Witching Black is the crowning moment for a band who receives far too little credit, and it's arguably the crowning achievement of the Greek scene. The 8-string bass is not the band's only forte, as pianos and saxophones also exist in this negative plane, and a subtle and beautiful orchestration provides a brilliant counterpoint the rugged, raw thrust of the two basses. Magus Wampyr Daoloth has a sinister edge to his vocals, like the frolicking of imps and homonculi about the burning palaces of Hell.

I'll weave an invocation
To insanity and rebirth
Fiery lightning hold my hand
Show me your face in black waters
My worst, declared enemies
Are my most devoted slaves
They inspire me a wolf idolatry
I'll burn them in my witch-pyre

All the material is enormous and evil. "Devilskin" enters with distant whipping winds, and the cordial sounds of a music box-like lullaby, before the raging basses erupt like an abandoned palace of heaven crashing into a volcanic, abyssal maw. "Black Mirror" begins with a doomed gait, glorious sunken memories evoked through the dingy, dual bass. "Pretender to the Throne (Opus I: The Usurper's Spawn)" uses some interesting, shouting vocals along with the incredible basswork and synths. At :43, one of the greatest riffs ever kicks in, a vile march towards the jaws of Leviathan. "The Arcane Light of Hecate" is a ritual, orchestral piece without the metal elements...and yes, a creepy fucking saxophone solo! Unbelievable.

Oh powerful queen, thy the knowledge of fear
Dangerous when crossed, the art of sorcery
The bringers of joy and misery
Thy children never tell thy mystery

The metal continues with the downward spiral of leadwork and driving bass of "Scarlet Witching Dreams", and the hellish, bludgeoning of "The Serpent and the Pentagram". Then you are treated to a familiar classical sample that leads into "Pretender to the Throne (Opus II: Battle at the Netherworld)". While a great song, this is perhaps the one piece on the album that was not entirely compelling. But the scintillating monument to sorrow, "Spiritdance", makes up for this with its ever-weaving orchestrations acrest the tumult of the clean and harsh vocals, and the bass wasteland.

Scarlet Evil Witching Black is a sick album. It's the best of Necromantia, and one of the most unique creations in the underworld magmasphere of occult black. Inspired by its rituals and imagination, it made an amazing companion piece to Therion's masterpiece Lepaca Kliffoth (which also released this year). A true masterwork of Greek misanthropy.

Tagged with 1995, Autothrall, black metal, Necromantia, Osmose Productions

May 17, 2017

The Fierce and the Dead - Field Recordings

By Karen A. Mann. Fans of progressive metal would be well-advised to check out London’s The Fierce and the Dead, an instrumental group that has built an extremely loyal fan base with four albums’ worth
By Karen A. Mann.


Fans of progressive metal would be well-advised to check out London’s The Fierce and the Dead, an instrumental group that has built an extremely loyal fan base with four albums’ worth of well-crafted, guitar-heavy tunes.

A great starting point is the band’s latest release, Field Recordings, which was recorded live at Britain’s Ramblin’ Man Fair in July 2016. The album comprises six songs from throughout their career, including their “hit single” (announced as such with a good bit of humor) “666...6”.

Photo by rjforster.

While taking obvious cues from later era King Crimson, the band’s improvisational, often jammy sound also recalls Television, Kyuss and even contemporaries Elder. Each song is a multi-part journey that takes the listener from swirly looped melodies to insistent, skronky noise and back again, all wrapped around a driving rhythm section that remains consistent in the midst of the controlled chaos of the guitars.

Photo by rjforster.

The album’s highlight is the second-to-last song, “Palm Trees,” from the band’s 2015 release, Magnet. Beginning with a simple, repeated riff, the song builds to a trance-like crescendo, whereupon the guitars drop off, and the bass and drums continue on, signaling a transition to a faster, heavier, more discordant ending.

After giving Field Recordings a good listen, I recommend you check out the band’s back catalog, particularly Magnet, which is their most recent release of new material. These are on Bandcamp as well.

Tagged with 2017, Karen A. Mann, progressive metal, progressive rock, The Fierce and the Dead

May 15, 2017

Excommunion - Thronosis

By Bryan Camphire. In three month's time, one guitarist will have released three of the most intense metal records you're liable to hear this year. Kyle Spanswick plays in three crushingly heavy bands, all of whom are releasing
By Bryan Camphire.

Cover art by Lauri Laaksonen from Desolate Shrine.

In three month's time, one guitarist will have released three of the most intense metal records you're liable to hear this year. Kyle Spanswick plays in three crushingly heavy bands, all of whom are releasing records in rapid succession. April brought us Terra Damnata by Nightbringer. June will deliver us Holókauston by Bestia Arcana. This month we have Thronosis by Excommunion, and what a ferocious record it is.

Excommunion forges blackened death metal sui generis. Thronosis wastes no time boring its way into your skull like trepanation. The first track begins full tilt with drums blasting relentlessly and guitars pummeling the listener into submission. It's striking when a band can make an odd meter seem smooth; yet it's impressive on a whole different level when a band can take a regular time signature and make it feel off kilter. That's what happens during the first minute of the first track, "Twilight of Eschaton". Weird twists and turns abound. But it's at at the one and a half minute mark when things get really interesting. The guitars cough out a single chord down-stroked. The drums crescendo. The entire band drops out. In an instant the full band returns, the bell on the ride cymbal is hammered relentlessly and the riffage erupts into headbang-inducing lighter-raising fury. This destruction barrels forth until the three minute mark. Then the tempo drops, and the group drops out yet again. A start-stop tremolo-picked death-doom riff chugs in like an archaic army collectively heaving a battering ram, splintering everything in its path. The final riff brings things to close combat. The siege has breached the castle walls, and the violence advances forth into unhinged knife-wielding evil. Seven minutes have elapsed and this band has offered forth more intensity in a single song than most groups offer in an entire album.

Thronosis consists of four tracks and clocks in at under a half hour. You'll find no filler material here. The song architectures are calculated with utmost precision and conciseness. There is no room for the mind to wander. It's best to submit to the onslaught and let yourself be led down this record's destructive path. No detail is left to chance. The production is immaculate. The guitar sound calls to mind the venerable tech death masters Sarpanitum. The moshpit-ready blackened death evokes the Spanish masters of the form, Altarage. Yet, with all their start-stop rhythmic complexity, dynamic tempo changes, pick-squealing riffs, weird phrasing and headbang-inducing riffs, Excommunion definitely chart their own territory. Thronosis throws you headlong into a spiraling morass of dizzying ferocious death metal. A half hour spent in this unmitigated darkness will leave you reeling and thirsting for oblivion.

Tagged with 2017, atmospheric black metal, brutal death metal, Bryan Camphire, Dark Descent Records

May 14, 2017

Vastum - Carnal Law


Vastum's Carnal Law is great old-school sounding Death Metal, but it is also more than that. Let's start with the music; the esteemed Full Metal Attorney tells a tale:

San Francisco, 1993: A few of guys see Autopsy play, trade bootleg Incantation tapes, and hear a rote description of My Dying Bride's As the Flower Withers (without actually hearing the album itself). They get piss-drunk, buy some time at a studio, and lay down six primitive, raw, doomy death metal tracks. After making and selling a dozen copies, they lose the master tape, and the erstwhile band just sort of fades into nonexistence ... Eighteen years later, a savvy construction worker with a Possessed tattoo finds a copy while tearing down a condemned apartment building.

The music is tightly executed, and the solos are like little sharp bursts of laser light. The dual growls of Daniel Butler and Leila Abdul-Rauf are terrific. As Cosmo Lee noted: "Vastum may have the first male-female vocal pairing that does not divide roles along gender lines."

Photo by Taylor Keahey.

The music of Vastum is deathly goodness for sure while, as the Full Metal Attorney tale also hints at, not being overly original. What does make the band stand out is the psycho sexuality of the lyrics, like this bit from "Re-Member"

Left the penis with my Father
A womb with my mom
Heart with my Mother
Exogamous laws…
Broken…

This post has been updated with the remastered version of Carnal Law. Giving me a chance to add a quote from a recent interview with Leila and Daniel - lest you think the lyrics are meant as some sort of banal provocation

Leila: In my lyrics, I’m not referring to sexual perversion per se, but perversion of societal law, and the complex and unconscious sexual dynamics of relationships in conflict, and the shame, pain or horror attached to them. These complexities weave a web of codependency and confusion that blurs, or shifts, the imbalance of power—the dichotomy between one in power and one in a place of powerlessness. In this context, there is no advantage or disadvantage to either position, just an endless war-like nightmare of cyclical emotional pain.

Their music may be death, but lyrics are very much about life. Twisted sexual life, but life nonetheless. Death metal songs about about "bruised carnal melancholy" (again quoting Mr. Lee); it is appropriate that Vastum is latin for "empty" or "deserted"...

Tagged with 2011, death metal, Taylor Keahey, Vastum

May 11, 2017

Saule - Saule

By Justin C. If you're familiar at all with the vague-but-popular "post-metal" and "post-rock" tags, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from an album labeled that way. The vocals will be sparse (or absent completely)
By Justin C.


If you're familiar at all with the vague-but-popular "post-metal" and "post-rock" tags, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from an album labeled that way. The vocals will be sparse (or absent completely), there will be alternating passages of calm and heavy, song lengths will be long, and, in many cases, nothing about the music will stick in your head. There are exceptions, of course. Planks did it very well (and their final album, Perished Bodies was probably their best). Russian Circles continue to do it brilliantly. To this list, I'm going to add the Polish band Saule, who have just released their self-titled debut. It doesn't hurt that they have a secret weapon that lifts them above the pack, but I'll come back to that.

Saule fits pretty well with my genre description. There are lush and solemn passages interspersed with explosions, with clean guitars and distorted riffs competing for attention. The ebb and flow works nearly perfectly. I'll get my one gripe about the album out of the way--the closing song, "O," is a decompression/drone-type track that adds very little to the proceedings. But aside from that minor misstep, I found myself drawn along with this album, and it really is a whole-album experience. I think "III" and "V" are standout tracks, but in general, I'd be surprised if anybody jumped into their car after work and said, "I've had 'II' stuck in my head all day, and now I'm going to blast it!" It's not that kind of music.

I don't know if there's a mathematical formula for balancing out the soft and loud so that this kind of album holds your attention, but if there is, I think Saule's got a damn good estimation of it. On top of that, Saule has that secret weapon I hinted at before: the vocals. They may have done themselves a disservice by burying the vocals in the background for most of the opening track, but when they kick in, they're fantastic. The timbre of the singer's voice is very reminiscent of a lower, gruffer Roger Daltrey, and I'm loving it. I'd be surprised if it were intentional--I think it's just how this individual's voice works--but that semi-familiar, gravelly rasp is spine tingling, especially for a fan of The Who. It's potent and expressive, and the vocal lines in "III" even put me in mind of "Love, Rain O'er Me" from Quadrophenia. I can't back that up with a harmonic analysis, but they both have a beautiful, yearning quality to them. And of course, we all finally get to hear what Roger Daltrey's black metal rasps and death metal growls might have sounded like if The Who had gone a very different direction in their later years. Saule's vocalist sticks mainly to his "clean(er)" register, but I can’t imagine anyone complaining about his voice being too saccharine or pretty for metal.

I found myself drawn to this album immediately, in large part becuase of the vocals, but I think for some folks, it will take some time to warm up to. I urge you to give the first few tracks a chance before you hop on to the next thing. You'll be happy you did.

Tagged with 2017, Avantgarde Music, Justin C, post-metal, post-rock

May 10, 2017

From The Metal Archives Vol 6 - Moribund Records

[When I add labels to the Metal Labels on Bandcamp page I usually scan their releases looking for anything interesting I might have missed. The reviews on The Metal Archives are a great help when doing this: a couple of great reviews
By the reviewers from The Metal Archives.

[When I add labels to the Metal Labels on Bandcamp page I usually scan their releases looking for anything interesting I might have missed. The reviews on The Metal Archives are a great help when doing this: a couple of great reviews means an album I should probably check out. With this series I'd like to share some of my finds - in this edition we feature three quite different releases from Moribund Records, that just celebrated "24 years of the Devils Metal".]

Cover art by Marcelo HCV.

Slowly crawling walls of orchestration are created through synthesizers, and over this he layers plucky, often strange, distorted guitars that hover below the bombastic string sections, ethereal female tones that hover at the edge of perception, and a mix of diabolic rasps and male choirs. Together these elements crash like the waves of warring shores throughout history and space, across various epochs and realms of possibility. It's an alien, complex emotional onslaught that is anchored only by the mighty weight of the symphonic ballast. 55 minutes of riveting obscurity that should silence skeptics of such extreme and unorthodox brilliance. [read autothrall's full review here]



As "Breathless" opens this album, the process of gradually unleashing this albums demons begin. There are already numerous things going on beneath the layer of seemingly chaotic distortion. The bass, for example, is bombastically mesmerising its victims, luring them to an early grave with their demonic and hypnotic musings. The bass is an integral part of Death Obsession and should be single out for praise by every reviewer who even dares to touch this album. As a long-time fan of black metal, I assume, neigh, I expect the bass to be omitted from proceedings. Most black metal musicians don’t seem too fussed about harnessing the subtle creativity and dynamism of the glorious bass. The bass is probably my favourite instrument, so I was bound to love this album. [read Perplexed_Sjel's full review here]


Cover art by Joe Petagno.

The recent excitement about Satan's Host is that in 2011 Harry Conklin came back after Jag Panzer's recent break up. It is not uncommon nowadays for a classic, underground band to resurface in the digital age and sound just as amazing as they did before. But in this case, the story is different: they actually sound better than before. And that is what brings us to By the Hands of the Devil, the first album with this lineup. One could have expected them to just go back to the classic “true” metal style that has become more prevalent in the past decade, and that could have been cool. However, they could not deny their black metal resurgence, so one would think there is an impasse. On the one hand you got a band that has been playing black metal for the past ten plus years, and on the other hand one of the most memorable and beloved vocalists of the heavy metal/power metal world. So, what do they decide to do? Of course...mix power metal with black metal, duh!

Yes, if we are fixated with putting names on things, the best description for what you hear in this album is just that: blackened power metal. You may ask: is that even possible?! Well, don't ask me and listen. [read EspadaNegra's full review here]

Tagged with 2009, 2010, 2011, atmospheric black metal, black metal, blackened heavy metal, Brown Jenkins, doom metal, I Shalt Become, Moribund Records, power metal, Satan's Host, symphonic black metal

May 7, 2017

Thy Worshiper - Klechdy

By Hera Vidal. I like my black metal the way I like my relationships: straightforward, but with emotional complexity and the occasional bout of dramatics. Black metal dramatics, however, are best found in the music, usually in the atmosphere the album sets to create.
By Hera Vidal.


I like my black metal the way I like my relationships: straightforward, but with emotional complexity and the occasional bout of dramatics. Black metal dramatics, however, are best found in the music, usually in the atmosphere the album sets to create. In this case, Klechdy is a definite black metal gold mine filled with the dramatics and bombastic atmosphere black metal nowadays seems to lack.

Thy Worshiper is a Polish black metal band based in Dublin, Ireland, which adds a lot of flavor to its rich, folk sounds. Klechdy is an album filled with complexity and excellent musicianship that does not disappoint. The way it incorporates black metal, folk, and melodic tranquility into its music is just off-the-charts amazing, and this album deserves the praise it has received. The most interesting part of the whole thing is that it is a whopping 79 minutes long, and it delivers from beginning to end. Beginning with the opening track, “Gorzkie zale”, the album seems to elevate into a sense of quiet, atmospheric pulling that doesn’t change, but it never reaches peak. It is incredibly soothing and you start to lose track of yourself as the album slips into melancholy. The folk tones and the female vocals are the main driving force of the music, and they seem to emphasize a sense of peace, of acceptance. It’s quiet and it’s so emotionally complex, you have no idea how to deal with the cold warmth it brings.

However, things change toward the end of the first of the half of the album. With the sixth track, “Wschody”, the black metal elements that had been used sparingly jump into the album and set the tone for the remaining half of the album. Everything becomes harsher—the male vocals are harrowing, the music has the blast beat quality of black, and the female vocals begin to wail. The dramatics get to 11, and they stay there for the remainder of the album. It’s such a change that it takes a while to get used to, but, when you do, it is an absolute delight. It’s dark, a bit jazzy, and heavy, with flowing passages of music and beautiful vocals. At the heart of the matter, the vocals are the best part of the whole album, and the exquisite touches of other instruments, such as the violin, really drives the melancholy home.

An interesting note: the lyrics for each of the tracks can be found in both Polish and English, and they offer a window into the album’s themes. I do suggest looking into them to see what the album discusses and what you, the listener can get from it. There is a lot of religious imagery and commentary on death that is evident, which reminds me a bit of Batushka’s Litourgiya. It almost feels like Klechdy is Litourgiya’s more open-minded and flamboyant sibling.

All in all, Klechdy not only pushes the envelope forward on black metal boundaries, but it also bends them a bit so that the music can gravitate anywhere it pleases. The excellent musicianship shows that the band has built on its reputation on its composition and orchestration, and the fact that the music never wavers shows the stamina the band has to create compelling, beautiful music. There are no boring parts in Klechdy and it’s worth its 79 minute-running time. I would not be surprised if this album achieved classic black metal status down the line.

Tagged with 2016, black metal, death metal, folk metal, Hera Vidal, Thy Worshiper

May 4, 2017

Skáphe - Untitled

By Bryan Camphire. Kill the lights. Cover the windows. Light a candle. Skáphe have delivered another harrowing seance. In "VII", the untitled release’s single twenty-two minute song, the band maintains their reputation as
By Bryan Camphire.


Kill the lights. Cover the windows. Light a candle. Skáphe have delivered another harrowing seance. In "VII", the release’s single twenty-two minute song, the band maintains their reputation as one of the strangest acts active in extreme metal. Forging metal of dissonance and dismay along the lines of today’s weirdest and most twisted acts. If one were dubbing this track onto cassette, a work that would compliment it nicely for a B side would be The Marrow Veil EP by Howls of Ebb. The guitar playing is wildly original and pointedly chaotic. More notes seem to be bent than not, which sends the music headlong into oblivion. The entire song feels very deliberately off kilter. The drums sound like they are being played backwards during the faster sections, as though they have eclipsed time and space and are operating in some kind of shadow dimension. It gives the listener the feeling of being re-introduced to reality through a distorted perspective after having sustained a serious head injury. In fact, it has been said that this music was inspired by experiences taking psilocybin mushrooms. Once upon a time, I ingested mushrooms that were much too strong for my constitution. I ended up in the fetal position on a dingy cot in a filthy overcrowded hovel. I distinctly remember the overwhelming inconsolable fear that my sanity was lost, never to return. Time was condensed into diamond-like densities. Lifetimes - even aeons - seemed to pass in the span of an hour. Reality was a tightrope I had fallen from, careening downwards, flailing towards a bottomless abyss. With so much stoner metal populating the rank and file of heavy metal music, it is refreshing to encounter metal that is hallucinatory. Impressions of being on the edge of madness come to mind when listening to this outstanding work.

Tagged with 2017, black metal, Bryan Camphire, Fallen Empire Records, free download, Skáphe

May 2, 2017

The Devil's Blood - III: Tabula Rasa or Death and the Seven Pillars

By Natalie Zina Walschots. Based in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, psychedelic doom/occult rock outfit the Devil's Blood announced at the beginning to 2013 that they were dissolving, but plans for a final record had already been set in motion.
By Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published here by Exclaim.


Based in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, psychedelic doom/occult rock outfit the Devil's Blood announced at the beginning to 2013 that they were dissolving, but plans for a final record had already been set in motion. That swan song is III: Tabula Rasa or Death and the Seven Pillars, which the band openly admit was assembled from pre-production and demoed material, cleaned up as much as possible prior to release.

Photos by Francis Bijl.

Despite the less-than-ideal recording conditions, the material is strong, with urgent, swelling bass lines and fluid guitar work. There's an oppressive, almost chalky smokiness to the tone, but it serves the material, making it sound even more ominous. Farida Lemouchi's vocal performance is, as always, a highlight, her tone deep and caramel rich, her style emotive and intense. III: Tabula Rasa would be an exceptional occult rock release under most circumstances, but considering that it's a farewell, there's an added sense of poignancy and loss, demonstrating keenly exactly why the Devil's Blood will be missed.

Tagged with 2013, Natalie Zina Walschots, psychedelic rock, The Devil's Blood