Adversvm - Dysangelion, Aethyrick - Gnosis, Amor Fati, Coffin Curse - Ceased to Be, Cult of Erinyes - Æstivation, Goatowarex, Grogaldr / Kommodus - Howling Sanguine Triumph, Hæresiarchs Of Dis - Adumbratus, Hellsodomy - Morbid Cult, Immortal Souls Productions, Irae - The Old Ways, Memento Mori, Moribund records, Proscrito - Llagas y Estigmas, Purodium Rekords, Saturnal Records, The Bastard Within - Better Dead Than Friends, The Sinister Flame, third eye cinema podcast, Waxen - Blasphemer in Celestial Courts, Wind of the Black Mountains - Summoned By Shadows
Another day, another batch of basically black metal reviews to boggle and bewilder buffoons by…
Wind of the Black Mountains – Summoned By Shadows (Moribund Records) (January 31)
Posthumous release of material by ‘Tchort’.
No, wait, not that ‘Tchort’, the one you probably know from Emperor and latter Carpathian Forest. This is some domestic dude, you’ve probably never heard of him.
If you’re still with us, this is a comp, consisting of their second demo, the “forcefed into blasphemy” 7″ and some unreleased material, including the final recordings the guy did before some bad…er, habits got the best of him.
A surprising degree of the tracklist consists of ambient mumbling and growling with or without keyboard accompaniment, ‘backward masked’ tracks and two covers, one from Beherit and the other from Bathory (“the rite of darkness”), the latter of which is covered no less than three times herein, one of which is yet again, run in reverse/’backward masked.’
What little of any substance remains falls somewhere between “war” and “bestial black” qualitatively, but none of it really stands out all that much from what’s become a fairly large crowd of peers and competitors.
Too bad, really – was hoping for something more substantive here.
Hæresiarchs Of Dis – Adumbratus (Moribund Records) (November 29)
We’d covered their Tria Prima Diabolica, which came across as something of a garbage can pizza affair: throw whatever’s left in the kitchen on it and see if anything works. It was pretty hard to tell what the band was going for, given how oddly disparate its brief trio of tracks were…
Well, this time around, it’s a lot clearer…but unfortunately, it’s not something that appeals. Lots of low mixed spoken word buried beneath pointless atonal acoustic guitar meanderings, a hint of chanting, some really nasty snarled/hissed vox and guitars that go all over the damn place without a plan – notes and riffs come flying at you, without a hint of harmonic motion or structure. It’s just a lot of random noise and time changes that don’t make any sense, and this from someone who enjoys a bit of Watchtower now and again.
Oh, and the snarly-hiss vox and aimless atonal assault on guitars is oft paired with/partially grounded by full sounding keyboard stings. Oh, now I see what’s wrong. This guy thinks he’s another Ancient…or even another Emperor.
(rolls eyes, slaps forehead in disgust)
…you already know what we think of this one, and exactly where it’s headed.
Yeowtch! Shards of that disc appear to have embedded themselves in trees all around…is everyone OK?
Waxen – Blasphemer in Celestial Courts (Moribund Records) (November 29)
Our black metal guitar hero Toby Knapp, whose Blizzard Archer and Waxen releases Terror Decree, Weihung Auf Satan and Agios Holokausten were all covered herein, is back yet again with another round of increasingly nigh-Finnish levels of dark melodicism on the riffing end and James Murphyisms on the leads.
“The abyss between man and God” pretty much says it all, and is itself nearly worth the price of admission…but then you’d miss out on the surprisingly traditional thrash riffing of “lilithian gates” or the blackthrashified yet Disincarnate-esque tech/melodeath leanings of “child scryer” or “the oriens of astaroth”.
It’s only in the last two tracks that things turn a tad forgettable, with neither “blasphemer…” or “dreaming…” really standing out in any way beyond the flashy solos.
Back in the days of Shrapnel Records, Knapp could certainly have gotten himself signed to the label…hell, if the far from neoclassically inclined Greg Howe could, I have zero doubts about the far more technical Knapp! – and so even if the rest of his material were detestable, yours truly would still hold a soft spot for the guy.
But when a fair portion of the release sounds as good as it does here? It’d be unfair not to give the guy the nod.
Definitely recommended, so long as you can get past the ever-abrasive “recorded over the phone” black metal snarl vox.
Adversvm – Dysangelion (Moribund Records) (November 29)
We’d covered this wrongheadedly underground black metal act who lay decidedly false claim towards actually being a funeral doom concern (two very different animals and approaches there, guys…) for their Aion Sitra Ahra a few years back, and little’s changed in the interim.
If you’re more into seriously detuned, somewhat atonal and awash in reverb black metal of the “underground black/death” variety, complete with deep belch to vomit vox, this one’s low n’ slow and may well appeal.
But if you’re walking into this one looking for doom, much less funeral doom?
Boy, have you got the wrong number!
Hellsodomy – Morbid Cult (Saturnal) (December 6)
Turkish blackened (death-)thrash.
Bearing far less in common with either the usual Teutonic, US or South American blackthrash sound or that sort of first wave death metal bearing more thrash to its underpinnings than what would later shake out as its own subgenre, these guys are closer to a first wave black metal without the atmosphere, distinctive quirkiness or sinister vibe than anything else.
Even so, there’s some decent riffing to be found, especially on tracks like “pestilence of black blood” or “divided souls”.
If anything, the big downside here is that so many tracks sound like the one that came before…flip through “charged to kill”, “from the seed to the grave” and “hatecian” and you’ll think they’re all one long song, continuing from the aforemetioned “pestilence” and ending only when you get to “divided souls.” You can change key or swap out tempos and riffs every now and again, you know…
Even so…not bad overall.
Coffin Curse – Ceased to Be (Memento Mori) (January 27)
Santiago, Chile gives up this two man death metal operation.
With the vocals of Bolt Thrower (more or less) appended to a busy blackthrash leaning slightly deaththrash riffing style (think Grotesque or Necrophobic here), they manage to sound believably vintage while still missing the core sound that made death metal a thing back in the day.
Bottom line, it’s not what I’d consider death metal…but it’s old school and familiar enough to pass muster if you’re looking for something akin to the bands aforementioned, Liers in Wait or that sort of thing.
Proscrito – Llagas y Estigmas (Memento Mori) (January 27)
Death/doom out of Catalonia, Spain.
Nicely, vox are almost entirely absent until you get to “marcado por la Pezuna”. Well, to be more specific, there are brief sections in “persistiendo”, “tronos de oprobrio” and “exequias”, but it’s not all that much, given the lengthy running time of each.
A bit more of Winter and a bit less of the death vox, and this would come off even better than it already does. Best tracks open and close the album, namely “pantalgia” and “persistiendo”.
Not bad. Would prefer some tweaking, as noted…but not bad.
Grógaldr / Kommodus – Howling Sanguine Triumph (Goatowarex) (December 28)
Hmm. Interestingly, Grogaldr belie their domestic origins by appending to something of a Mutiilationesque aesthetic. Not to say there isn’t more than a hint of Judas Iscariot bubbling beneath the surface there as well, or to suggest that it’s as compelling as the French act could be in its heyday…but there’s a definite kinship of sound and approach to be found here.
Aussies Kommodus are still pretty raw and poorly recorded, but don’t stand out at first. It’s only with second track “march of the leper legion” that they bring a sort of noisy punk riffing to the table to at least prop the listener’s eyelids open a tad…
…and then they deliver the best track on this split, with closer “black prayer to aeolus”. Somewhere between punk and black metal, this one evokes early Carpathian Forest and vintage Mayhem while still playing in the quirkier fields of ash razed by acts like Grotesque – quirky, almost spastic riffing poorly dual tracked into near-atonality, appended to the aforementioned and far more basic punkified grind. Amazing stuff.
More like that, this one would be fucking gold. As is, has at least one defining moment.
The Bastard Within – Better Dead Than Friends (Immortal Souls Productions) (December 24)
Italian blackened grindcore act with a drummer from Dying Fetus in tow. Perhaps tellingly, the drums are what stands out here, with some nicely syncopated, decidedly accomplished playing kicking off opener “dead end” and appearing in other intros, breaks or any time he drops the blastbeat crap to actually showcase the high speed double bass footwork, fancy cymbal manipulation and quick tom rolls.
The weirdest part here is how they can’t seem to decide whether they want to play straight up black metal or try for the (arguably) cleaner and more precise death metal aesthetic grindcore devolves from.
I mean, this isn’t the usual “grindcore of black metal” (i.e. “bestial black” or “war metal”), but some bizarre mix of Carcass-ian grindcore dual vox and death’s clarity (especially on the drums, but even in regards to the regular resorting to chunky verse riffing) and black metal’s atonality and quirks of experimentalism.
Again…the drums are what stand out here. The rest is kind of a mess.
Aethyrick – Gnosis (The Sinister Flame) (January 24)
We’d covered (and really liked!) these Finn’s Praxis, and while a somewhat different beast this time around, they haven’t exactly pulled a major volte-face here.
No, it’s not as good as last time, not as comfortable for those of us intimately acquainted with the dark shadows within and surrounding…because it feels oddly hopeful, more major key. More brightly shining, which just comes off…wrong, somehow.
Maybe it’s the keyboard accompaniment, which is certainly working more of a major leaning modality herein, or perhaps it’s even intentional, given some statements the band appears to be making about the album and their thoughts behind it.
So again, if you liked what you heard last time (and why the hell wouldn’t you?), chances are you’ll find this one at least listenable and recognizable as from the same band or members thereof, at least in the same manner you’d suss out same from a side project.
But yeah…this one feels oddly expansive, open armed and, hate to say it, but “positive toned”…which just feels bizarre and somehow wrong on several levels.
Objectively speaking, same band, similar, if possibly lesser work.
Subjectively…nah, this one diverges too much from what made the last one work so well.
Irae – The Old Ways (Purodium Rekords) (December 25)
We’d covered this Portuguese black metal act for their split with Moribund, and really liked what we heard (from them, at least).
Here they don’t seem to diverge much from what we seem to have been picking up on last time around – still very much of a demo feel, drawing more from old school second wave black metal than not.
Side one works better than side two, at least by the time you get to the amazing “adoracao ao fogo”, which feels quite Through Chasm, Caves and Titan Woods or perhaps a touch of The Black Ravens Flew Again.
The rest is passable, but that track is likely worth the price of admission all by its lonesome.
Cult of Erinyes – Æstivation (Amor Fati) (December 21)
We’d covered these odd Belgian black metallers’ Tiberivs, whose Roman history angle very much appealed, but whose musical execution fell decidedly flat by contrast.
Here we don’t even get the high concept to assist, and despite changing both frontman and drummer (as well as producer in the bargain), it’s just more generic atonally oriented, somewhat experimental and quite modern black metal.
hmm? Were we talking about something?
Oh, that. Yeah, do me a favor and give it a toss, willya? Just watch out for the kickback, you don’t want to get burned by flaming slag.