Archive for August, 2016


Swedish depressive black metallers Mist of Misery are dropping their second full length album in 2016, conviently entitled ‘Absence’. Because this is a record full of absences; joy, happiness, hope to name a few. ‘Absence’ is out now on Black Lion Records, and is 44 minutes of suicidal black metal art.

Black metal has always regarded itself as art, ever since Emperor proclaimed itself as such on their classic ‘Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk’. But that doesn’t always coincide with the music within. Mist of Misery come very close to that however on ‘Absence’, collecting not only the ragged riffing of vintage black metal but absorbing into it classical strings and an aching misery. If art is designed to provoke feelings in the beholder, then tracks like ‘Euthanasia’ empower those of depressive natures. This is bleak, almost hopeless at points, and the atmospheres are perfect, particularly the soaring title track. It is odd how a song can feel almost uplifting an bleak at the same time, but Mist of Misery can pull this off.

The acoustic interlude of ‘Final Departure’, the gloomy strings of ‘Epitaph of Penitence’, the fiery ‘Mist of Misery’; the band have captured many parts of the pure essence of black metal as an art form, and ‘Absence’ is up there with my favourite blackened releases for this year. Evocative, emotional and furious, Mist of Misery have birthed something rather special.

Being marked as a ‘landmark release’ in Indian metal is a big ask for Darkrypt to live up to. This is the place that has brought us so many great acts recently that Darkrypt need to be pretty good just to keep up with their countrymen. Fortunately, I have faith in Kunal at Transcending Obscurity when statements like this are made, so I’m looking forward to ‘Delirious Excursion’, coming out in October.

From the ponderous intro ‘The Becoming Alteration’ comes a fire breathing monster in ‘Dark Crypt’, where riffs most murderous come tearing from the cemetaries of vintage Scandinavian death metal. Lacking the buzzing HM2 pedal, but summoning the feel of classic Swedeath (mixed at Unisound Studios by Dan Swano helps) shot through by morbid melodies, ‘Chasm of Death’ has an undead swagger about it. The guitar work is stellar, and really helps to accentuate the switches between relentless chugging and spiralling solos, particularly the beautiful solo in ‘Cryptic Illusions’. The gloomy darkness of ‘Folie à Deux’ is also punctuated with a skillful solo, and this injection of virtuoso guitar work is key to setting them apart from other death metal bands.

Also key to this release are two of its guest appearances, the incorrigible Rogga Johansson of Paganizer et al and Nitin Rajan of Primitiv (one of the subcontinent’s most potent acts). Both add a great deal to a record that already bursts with death metal fury. Rogga lends his talents to the aforementioned ‘Cryptic Illusions’, and boy is it a stormer! The rumbling ‘Inducer’ is where the Primitiv influence comes in deep, but you can also feel an earth shaking Bolt Thrower lean in other tracks too. Darkrypt have crafted a combination of some of the finest death metal styles into a hell of a record. Seek this out if you appreciate skull cracking brutality and evil melodies!


Obed Marsh - Innsmouth

Feeding on from the Lovecraft inspired dread of Swampcult, I’ve found myself in ‘Innsmouth’, the debut Obed Marsh record that is crafted from cyclopean doom and morbid blackness. This Australian duo look to drag you off towards another space and time, a place where madness is as commonplace as water and Elder things crawl and creep.

From the watery ‘Prologue’ into the deep and dark ‘Innsmouth Ritual’, it is clear straight away that this is a listening experience designed to test your mettle. A dirging black cloud that envelops you and a rasping vocal that could be a follower of Dagon himself, belching unholy incantations that both invigorate and terrify. The undead crawl of ‘The Esoteric Order’ almost drips with malicious intent, while the glorious closing sequence to ‘Usurpers’ allows Obed Marsh to flex its creative muscle without stepping too far away from the core sound.

‘Deficient’ feels like a mournful cry for help, while the miserable ‘Desquamate’ amplifies that feeling even more. There is a dread murk that seeps within every riff, every rasp, that encompasses the mind with eldritch fear. This music is dark, sinister and, at points, harrowing. Obed Marsh have dragged up the foul beasts of the abyss, and their haunting gloom will drag you back down with them to cold, watery depths.

Swampcult are from the Netherlands, and have crafted an album of utter death and decay based on one of HP Lovecraft’s most intense and influential novellas, ‘The Festival’. The album is entitled the same as the story, and follows the dark tale of the beginnings of the Cthulhu Mythos. Come with us on a journey into the unknown, the unfathomable, and seek the dreadful truth…

Each song is a separate chapter of the story, unfolding the dread tale slowly and gradually building the suspense. Blending death, doom and black metal into an eerie soundtrack, the tracks are accentuated by tolling bells, strange squelching noises (the end of ‘Chapter III’ is particualrly disturbing) and other effects and samples that enhance this otherworldly feeling. A chugging, doomy album that is reminscient of early Florida death metal, sprinkled liberally with Paradise Lost-esque gloom.

Swampcult have created a record that is not necessarily here to bludgeon you into submission with earth shaking ferocity; rather they are here to unsettle you, to remove your sense of comfort and leave you open, bare to the uncoiling madness that creeps from the likes of ‘Procession’ and the leviathan ‘The Rite’. ‘The Festival’, like the story that inspires it, is a mysterious and ghastly tale where madness is real, and the nightmare is given form by the music. Many bands have used Lovecraft as an inspiration for their music, but rarely has a band come this close to capturing the oblique horrors that he hinted at. Superb.

Runemaster - Wisdom & Darkness

For those who remember, I was absolutely enthralled by the last Runemaster release, ‘Futhark Dawning’, for its righteous trad metal thunder and epic riffery. Well, Runemaster have dropped another three track beast, and this and ‘Futhark Dawning’ is now available together on CD through Greek label Alone Records. As a fellow Scot, I feel obliged to inform you that this is awesome.

Opener ‘Path of the Serpent’ lacks the same killer hook that ‘Into the Hall’ had, but the riffs are no less epic, and the primordial power of heavy metal is tapped into directly. Runemaster have that same swagger that Grand Magus have, but on a more gritty and base level. They have an almost fuzzy, occult feel to them, where each song is like a Conan the Barbarian-style warrior ritual. Music to triumph over your enemies to!

‘God Has Himself to Blame’ has a righteous solo, and each riff smacks of vintage Pentagram, Candlemass and Solitude Aeternus. The simple groove induces the most vigorous of head banging, and the epic closer ‘Pillars in the Abyss’ is probably one of the most pure and excellent heavy metal songs you’ll hear ever. Keeping the spirit of Manowar and Dawnbringer alive, Runemaster prove once again to be one of the most vital flagbearers out there. Another stone cold classic!

Colosso - Obnoxious

Portuguese death metallers Colosso have emerged from under their ancient, Iberian soil to unleash a Gorgutsian monster in ‘Obnoxious’, their new full length record. Playing a combination of industrial, unfathomably heavy death metal and obtuse melodies, Colosso have created something the likes of which you may never have heard.

Opener ‘In Memoriam’ is angular, brutal and generates feelings of unease with the rolling riffs. Imagine Deathspell Omega had taken up death metal rather than black, and you’d be on the right track. Dissonant guitars couple with a Fear Factory-like density smash through ‘The Unrepentant’, and the unbearably brutal ‘Of Hollow Judgements’ crushes everything in front of it with a Bolt Thrower like rumble. ‘Obnoxious’ is a record that flexes with unmitigated power. Death metal this deep and primal in nature is simply awesome.

‘As Resonance’ has a couple of softer, more industrial tinged moments that provide the briefests of respites before the hammering ‘Soaring Waves’ crumbles the earth with its epic breakdown. Colosso ploughs the deepest furrows for their riffs, creating this sound that I am totally absorbed by. The ominious hum of ‘Seven Space Collisions’ is shattered by the blasting force of ‘To Purify’, and that is the magic of ‘Obnoxious’.

It clashes together elements that appear so opposed in a way that feels like a natural mix. But there is something unnatural about this music, some otherworldly heaviness and oppression. Suffocatingly superb, and highly recommended.

Aegeon - Devouring the Sun

Gloomy black metal from the depths of Finland that evokes that mid-90s intensity and raw feeling, Aegeon’s new record ‘Devouring the Sun’ feels like just that. A beast of smothering darkness that is indeed consuming the only light in our solar system. It is out  now via Elegy Records.

Classic black metal tropes begin almost immediately. Harsh rasping vocals, cold and bleak riffs with just the faintest of melodies sneaking within and a dark atmosphere. But Aegeon insert their own, gloomy atmospherics into tracks like ‘Art of the Terminal Metamorphosis’ or the gloriously bleak ‘Ephemeral’ that adds this wonderful feeling of hopelessness, of loss, of agonising misery. There is barely an increase in pace at any point, allowing the sorrowful riffing to create an absorbing record with acres of space.

These songs move like a sweeping rain, dousing us in a cold and depressing mood that permeates even the most positive thoughts. Each track becomes a lament to something long gone, and the ‘devouring of the sun’ is an apt metaphor for the growing fog of melancholy that envelops us. ‘Death Moves the Waves at the River Touni’ is my favourite track, but each piece is starkly beautiful in its execution. Recommended.

Tomb Mold - The Bottomless Perdition

Tomb Mold are another Canadian death metal band that have both a lot of potential and a lot of love for the Finnish classics. ‘The Bottomless Perdition’ is a mere taste of what is to come from this duo, with a full length due out from Blood Harvest Records hopefully soon. Never has death felt so alive…

‘(Regions of Sorrow) Intro/Demon’ opens with an ominous drone, a primal vibration of the bones before a nasty riff slashes into your consciousness. A guttural riff that instantly conjures up the bloodstained crawl of Autopsy, which flails and rumbles with primitive fury. Like a force of nature, the deathly howl flows like a fell wind through a dark valley. Corpses line that valley, victims of Tomb Mold’s awesome assault. The skull rattling ‘Gates of Bereavement’ and the furious ‘Valley of Defilement’ is no frills, no bullshit death metal carnage, unhinged and with the sickest of guitar tones.

The thudding closing title track has some of the best, cavernous vocals on the whole release. Blood Harvest have found a raw gem here, and I’d suggest only the merest of polishing is required, because Tomb Mold’s ancient, morbid frenzy is simply fucking great.

Macabra is a study in old school Scandinavian death metal. Not just the more famous Stockholm or Gothenburg ‘sounds’, but of classic fetid Finnish death as well, like the early days of Amorphis and Demelich. Before the sound became bastardised, watered down or copied so much it almost lost what made it special in the first place. Death metal artist icon Dan Seagrave has created the perfect cover painting for an album that creaks with primordial fear. The man behind the music, Mark Riddick, designed what Seagrave painted, and he has also designed a cracking record of death metal!

Opener ‘Death Speculation’ has that ancient, murky melody lurking in amongst the most vintage of death metal riffs. Macabra is one of the most authemtic ‘old school’ death metal acts I’ve come across; ‘…to the Bone’ genuinely reeks of that early 90s influence to the point where I had to check to ensure I wasn’t actually just listening to a lost gem from 25 years ago. I’m not. ‘Sadocrat’ has this excellent, almost wailing melody that incessantly burrows into your mind and won’t leave.

Primal brutality aside (killer vocals from Adrien Weber by the way), Macabra’s main strength lies in the dark and atonal leads that puncture each song and add that sense of the uneasy, of insidious evil. I love the wailing thunder of ‘Royalties on Murder’, and the rampant ‘Cannibal Black Market’ but you’d struggle to find a bad song here. This is excellent, authentic worship of death metal’s finest era, and taking influence of one of the most unsung areas.

Fire of the Spirit cover art

American blackened folk about the Appalachian mountains? Well, you’ve got me intrigued. It’s a wet day here at the Killchain headquarters, and on these days I get most enjoyment of black metal, gloomy folk etc so I think Twilight Fauna are likely to be in good company today. Multi-instrumentalist Paul Ravenwood handles everything here, and it is out on Fragile Branch Recordings now!

Exploring the snake handling rituals of a rural church in Appalachia, Twilight Fauna have put a lot of research and time into this concept, and the music conjures up a ritualistic, rural feel quite expertly. The building acoustics of ‘Walking with the Ghost’ leads into a lo-fi, buzzing black metal crawl that feels like a lost mountain path, overgrown and wet. This is a path to be trod alone, following the hypnotic drone of ‘A Green Moth in the Mist’ into darker climes. The soothing ‘Laying Out the Fleece’ leads into the haunting ‘Anointing Oil’.

‘Tongues of Knowledge’ opens with a babbling woman, leaving a rather disturbed taste in your mouth as crawling raw tar envelopes your senses. An intense bleakness is innate with all of Twilight Fauna’s music, and this is a perfect example. ‘Fire of the Spirit’ is a record of deep meaning, of evocative sound and glacial, stark beauty. I heartily recommend you seek it out