Aethyrick - Praxis

The debut album from Finnish black metallers Aethyrick aims to capture the spirit of black metal’s original, primal flames and yet take it to new and vast regions. ‘Praxis’ is out now through Sinister Flame Records, and is a swirling and savagely atmospheric record.

The opening track has both snarling, traditional second wave-isms and a plethora of sweeping, atmospheric highs that imagine snow crested vistas blasted by howling winds. If there’s one thing black metal does better than everything, it is evoking imagery. There’s some glorious moments on this record where it opens up from furious black metal into soaring beauty, and it is possibly best done in ‘Pilgrimmage’.’Quietude’ pays homage to those slower, darker bits of prime My Dying Bride in black metal form, while the mesmerising flights of ‘Adytum’ are essential listening.

‘Praxis’ is the kind of record that black metal bands try to make to show they aren’t just one dimensional, but few actually achieve. Equally epic and fierce, when the music dives back through the clouds to the blizzard beneath it feels natural, and when it soars above, you never want to leave. Aethyrick are special.

https://aethyrick.bandcamp.com/music

http://www.thesinisterflame.com/store.htm

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Vale of Pnath - Accursed

Technical death shredders Vale of Pnath are releasing their new EP, ‘Accursed’, through the iconic Willowtip Records, and even though it is an EP it still manages to cram 27 minutes of serious mind melting music into it. It is due to come out in May.

Like the valley of Lovecraftian horror they are named for, Vale of Pnath’s intro, ‘Shadow and Agony’ is suitably dark and horrifying. It leads directly into the maelstorm of ‘The Darkest Gate’, which couples the maddening technical death metal for which the band are known, with an undeniably miasmic black metal atmosphere. There is so much collaboration between black and death metal now that it is sometimes difficult to see where each genre splits, but Vale of Pnath manage to keep their riffing deathly and their atmospherics blackened. There’s moments in ‘Skin Turned Soil’ that bring to mind ‘Deathcult’-era Dimmu, while ‘Audient Void’ sounds like an echo chamber for the vale of Pnath itself.

The cascading death metal riffing of ‘Obsidian Realm’, that begins to drown in the blackened waters is a perfect example of why ‘Accursed’ is a record that is a joy to write about. The overall atmosphere is menacing, horrendous filth that seethes with untold terror, while the musicianship is equally jaw dropping. Vale of Pnath’s work is carved from molten rock, and burnished into an alien hue, both unknown and mesmerising.

https://willowtip.bandcamp.com/

https://valeofpnath.bandcamp.com/album/accursed

https://www.facebook.com/ValeOfPnathCO/

Eggs of Gomorrh - Outpregnate

The follow up to the terrifying ‘Rot Prophet’, Eggs of Gomorrh are releasing their new EP ‘Outpregnate’ this month through Krucyator Productions and, like the hellish cover art, something ugly and disturbed lies within.

The ominous ‘Gnaruris DCCXIV’ introduction leads straight into a bestial display of savage black metal rawness, as ‘Deathinjekt’ stabs you directly in the throat with a rusted knife. Blastbeats thunder in the background, as churning belches of vocals fight with vicious riffing for supremacy. ‘Prophetyphus’ is a barrage of war metal, baring bloodied teeth and screaming black vengeance against life itself. The vocal switch from an impassioned rasping shriek to a gurgling growl with barely a thought, as if all the voices of Hell combined. A mere seventeen minutes of violence is completed with a suitably anarchic and blasphemic cover of Arkhon Infaustus’ ‘Domination Xtasy’.

Eggs of Gomorrh’s work is uncompromising, unyielding and laced with Satanic strychnine. ‘Outpregnate’ is a virulent, infected piece, wrought in Christraping black metal and forged within the fires of annihilation. Superb.

https://krucyator.bandcamp.com/album/outpregnate

EGGS OF GOMORRH – Outpregnate

https://www.facebook.com/eggsofgomorrh

Usurper - Lords of the Permafrost

Last seen on 2005’s ‘Cryptobeast’, Chicago legends Usurper have returned from a 14 year hiatus to drop ‘Lords of the Permafrost’, a snarling blackened thrash beast ready to take back their crown as defenders of the faith. It is out on the 22nd of March through Soulseller Records.

Opener ‘Skull Splitter’ is a chugging, ferocious track layered with a classic thrash gallop, coated in a slimy blackened tar that adds a nice dose of savagery. Usurper’s main focus appears to be designed to thrash live pits to death, and their grasp of chunky riffing is unmatched. Imagine Unearth crossed with the rough edge of Skeletonwitch and you’ve about got it. The clattering title track definitely has a touch of Sodom about it, while the weird soloing howls spiralling through ‘Gargoyle’ keeps things interesting.

‘Lords of the Permafrost’ is an album made for those of us who still like to bang our heads with ease and not worry about esoteric concepts or overwrought atmospherics. This is thrashy heavy metal with the appropriate flourishes of darkness and carnage welded in, and it slays hard. Recommended.

https://www.facebook.com/usurper.chicago/

https://soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/lords-of-the-permafrost

The embryonic utterances from Germany’s Flame, Dear Flame have coalesced into their debut EP, ‘The Millennial Heartbeat’, coming out in early April as a self released piece. Under the smoke shrouded cover art you will find some epic, misted doom at work.

‘Part I’ oozes gloomily from your speakers, all groaning clean guitar melodies and fuzzed riffs, and a electrifying female lead vocal that will send shivers through you. A definite child of the occult rock influence upon doom in recent years, Flame, Dear Flame keep a grasp upon lumbering doom riffs as the anchor for their more esoteric moments. The ancient fingers of old Candlemass slither into sections of ‘Part II’, but there is a more morose element playing its part in the background here. A cold melancholy swept from the likes of My Dying Bride seeps in, condensing in the miserable triumph of ‘Part III’, which merges crushing riffs with haunting vocals to create a true sense of gloom.

‘The Millennial Heartbeat’ creaks and groans under the potential lurking here. The grasp of melody, the sweep of heft and delicate touches and the mesmerising vocal performance will leave you breathless. Flame, Dear Flame are a triumphant revelation, and I can’t recommend this more. Seriously. They made me not mind having to spell millennial wrong half a dozen times. GET THIS IMMEDIATELY!

https://www.facebook.com/flamedearflame/

https://flamedearflame.bandcamp.com/releases

Vorga - Radiant Gloom

The debut EP of multinational melodic black metallers Vorga, ‘Radiant Gloom’ is a four track blast of warming black metal for these frigid winter nights. It has just been released independently, and is available through Bandcamp.

Opening track ‘The Black Age’ is a thick, chunky slab of blood-drenched black metal fury. Enschewing the standard feelings of ice and bleak coldness, Vorga attack with blood running from their mouths, fiery and primal in their assault. The production is rich, the musicianship is great and the riffing, while slightly derivative in places, has enough oomph behind it to put it above your carbon copy, cut and paste black metal band. ‘Argil’ has a thread of melody, running like a vein up a shredded arm, while the howl of ‘Divine’ has an intense gallop to it.

Closing with the vibrant thunder of ‘Hunger’, Vorga’s debut supplies you with plenty to be excited about. A black metal band not trying too hard to be kvlt and instead creating some great songs with a superb tone to them. This is hopefully going to lead to a bright future for them, and I look forward to more.

https://www.facebook.com/VorgaBand/

https://vorga.bandcamp.com/releases

https://vorga.de/

ysbryd jewelcase.jpg

Rising from the potent German black metal underground, Ysbryd keep flames of traditional black metal burning brightly with their debut full length, ‘Kraft’. Originally released last year in a limited cassette run, Purity Through Fire Records were so impressed they’ve given us a wider release, and it is out now.

After the cold opener ‘Diafol’, a gloom-sodden clean guitar melody, ‘Schmach und Schande’ is a miserable, ancient form of primal black metal that would please Bathory and Venom, while still oozing with frigid, black melodies. The haunting calm of ‘Im Kriege’ contrasts wonderfully with the crashing rattle of the blackened riffs cascading from ‘Ritual der Befreiung’, and there is no doubt that the sense of bleakness permeates every element of ‘Kraft’. This is a one man black metal record that isn’t a mere copy and paste black metal effort. The mind bending start to ‘Glanz und Gloria’ shows you how the paradigm can be contorted into new forms.

‘Kraft’ is a record that sticks to the traditional black metal tropes but executes them in a way that incorporates an otherworldly vibe at times and a wistful melancholy at others. A great debut record, and I look forward to see how the Ysbryd sound matures through their next release.

https://www.facebook.com/ysbrydblackmetal/

https://shop.purity-through-fire.com/en/