July 22, 2015

Black metal roundup: Dissociative Visions

By Kaptain Carbon. Dissociative Visions is a two day black metal festival in New York City. It is an inaugural event, bringing together artists from a variety of underground labels to celebrate darkness in probably the most oppressive heatwave of recent memory. The lineup for the show is a dream
By Kaptain Carbon.

Dissociative Visions is a two day black metal festival in New York City. It is an inaugural event, bringing together artists from a variety of underground labels to celebrate darkness in probably the most oppressive heatwave of recent memory. The lineup for the show is a dream, most likely being what you get if you asked some guy on the internet to make an imaginary show with all the dorky black metal from a few labels like Fallen Empire and Terratur Possessions. I'm here to tell you it is not a dream. This show is real. If the last few afternoons at Maryland Deathfest were a main destination for you this year, then you owe it to yourself to make the journey, or at least curse under your breath for not being able to attend.

I feel fortunate to write this article as I have been reviewing the majority of these bands in various releases over the past couple of years. Seeing Dissociative Visions and the rise of Fallen Empire as a label has only been a treat for fans of really decent and mostly United States black metal. Enjoy the heat you miscreants.

One Tail, One Head.

Woosh. You know a band has a strong following when the last real thing they released was a few EPs in 2011. This Norwegian black metal band may only have enough material to fill a compilation, and maybe play a 30 minute set, but good goddamn will it be a blistering one. While One Tail, One Head has members who are busy with other Scandinavian black metal projects, like Behexen and Vemod, finally seeing the source of so much hype would be gratifying...or paralyzing.


This show is particularly interesting if for nothing else than to see how artists with lo fi recordings translate to a live setting. Sortilegia from Canada has a wonderful and harrowing release called Arcane Death Ritual, which came out late in 2014. The album’s raw recording sound is something that should easily translate to a live setting given the right equipment, or right damage to equipment. Something tells me that the ghostly aspect of this band will soon be present with fuller sound and those shadowy knives will finally draw blood.


Vanum (and Predatory Light) is lightly connected with the U.S. black metal band Ash Borer due to guitarist Kyle Morgan. Ash Borer is also the meeting point for a shit ton of new black and death metal bands as their other members share duties in Serum Dreg, Triumvir Foul, Urzeit, and Uškumgallu. We are not going to talk about this web of connected black and death projects, but rather the fact that Vanum is equal in quality with whatever this group is releasing outside of it. Realm of Sacrifice, released in 2015, is probably the most high profile release, being supported by Profound Lore. I can imagine the cloud of locusts growing as we speak.


Hæthen’s Shaped by Aeolian Winds is probably one of the more popular underground black metal releases of the year, closely behind other entries from Fallen Empire’s roster. How does one justify this release being discussed with so much vigor? Harrowing black metal, mixed with even more terrifying atmosphere, combined with a love for metaphysical darkness and matched with a pretty decent album title. There are few certainties in life, but one of them could be a reliable black metal act from the U.S. being at least interesting for a day or an eternity.


Holy god. I loved this 2014 demo. In fact, one of my first introductions to Fallen Empire came with Canadian black metal three piece Eos and their debut demo L'avalé. Even though I did not know I wanted disorientating black metal in my life, Eos was there to throw me to the floor. L'avalé had a distinct lo fi tone that made the whole demo pulsate with sinister noise. Additionally, their ability to make the world feel like it is being sucked through a netherworld vortex is knee-weakening. It would be interesting to see this outfit live and see the mystery that sat behind this amazing release in the flesh.


Yes. Another one from Fallen Empire. Vorde is a newcomer with only one record from 2014 and a massively hyped split with Predatory Light. If that most recent split is any indication of the direction for Vorde is headed, then their next record will eclipse the 2014 debut in quality. This is something amazing, since their debut was already a trip in the hallowed halls of hell.


Artwork by Alexander L. Brown

On Tape Wyrm, I was going insane with the amount of Icelandic black metal that came out in 2014. Sinmara was one of them. The others are oddly related, as the members of Sinmara share duties in both Svartidauði and Slidhr. Whatever weird Icelandic close connections are being made is nothing I want to think about, but 2014’s Aphotic Womb was a unique combination of atmospheric texture veiling some blistering raw black metal. Oh, let us not forget the sense of dread that came with their tempo and structure. Sinmara feels like clawing at the walls while something horrible begins breathing at the nape of your neck.


End of the year lists are funny because, in all honesty, people start wrapping up their selections mid November. This becomes increasingly difficult when an album of the year contender is released late November and it throws everything for a damn loop. Premonición de Guerra was released in the late hours of 2013 and was so astounding in its quality, I believe it could have made it on a lot more lists given more time. This Mexican one man black metal project has everything people desire in black metal. Whether or not it is smooth texture between the guitar, drums, and vocals, or the fact that the density within that texture feels endless, Lluvia channels the best part of second wave black metal and gives it a stronger drum kick. Lluvia recently released a 2015 record entitled Eternidad Solemne, which I hope has the possibility of reaching many end of the year lists this time around. Time will only tell, but it will be worth stopping at this burned out ruin to participate in their musical ritual.

Predatory Light.

Art by Todd White

It is funny to talk about lesser known black metal in terms of popularity and hype but goddamn if this U.S. four piece isn't on fire I do not know what is. With only two demos and one split to their name, Predatory Light has come out screaming in 2015, demanding attention from people already exhausted with quality black metal. One of the best parts of Predatory Light, aside from the hypnotic guitar lines, is the distinct snarl that compliments the vocals. It is something that lies somewhere between a banshee, a werewolf, and a nameless ghoul haunting a foggy grove.


Cover by J. Deegan

Ireland is not a country that comes up often in discussion of black metal. Well, aside from Primordial. Ireland may be a little far off from having a heavy metal aesthetic but Slidhr's recent album Deluge, released by Debemur Morti, has enough stopping power to make one ponder many things. With only two members, the members of Slidhr create a sobering landscape of distinct vocals among a surprisingly clear production. Aside from the near growled narratives, and the heavy slow riffing, this record is full of terror akin to being taken alive by a roving party of Orcs.


Art by Ariella Vaystukh

I love Aureole for many reasons. First of all, the 2014 release, Alunar, was a beautiful ambient black record, which was odd at first but after many listens the texture and mood of the album became undeniable. I also love Aurele because the creator also creates 3D DOOM maps based on the castle that adorns the cover for Alunar. That level of dedication to a personal space frames Alunar as being a fortress for its creator. This fortress provides a place to slumber under horrible looking stars. The aesthetics and themes used on Alunar are near majestic, which sharply contrasts the ugliness kept in the dark dungeons beneath the castle walls.


I feel Vilkacis is sitting and waiting for some reason. In 2013, they released a really decent EP called the Fever of War. I feel if the band replicates the same level of hypnotic vortex that was the hallmark of their EP then they would be golden for 2015. We are also not going to talk about how Vilkacis relates to a dozen other bands, half of them being on this roster, because I do not want to get into charting everything on graph paper. For now, just allow the sandstorm that blows off this necropolis to envelop you.

Even if you do not make it up or down or across for this show, rest assured that new and decent black metal is being made, and potentially making friends, with each other. From this gathering of bands, possibilities of more splits and collaborations, or just bigger arms race to see who can be the scariest act alive, will be forged. If you want to follow the continual coverage on these types of bands, please visit Tape Wyrm. If you want to read my fantasy culture reviews on film, comics, and power metal records visit Hollywood Metal.

Dissociative Visions took place Fri-Sat July 24-25 2015 in Saint Vitus Bar, Brooklyn, New York.
  1. This is a GREAT post, and also provides a fantastic entry point for several of these bands--I knew some of them from Fallen Empire, but excited to check out the others.

    1. Thanks! Really wish I could go. It's an awesome lineup.

  2. Thanks for pointing this fest out! Great post! If you're looking for another festival lineup to feature check out Shadow Woods coming up in September in Maryland!

    Here's a flier: https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/t31.0-8/10296008_1573617019581712_4980104573023498851_o.jpg