Archive for March, 2017

Italy seems to be a place where metal in all its myriad genres seems to thrive. But atmospheric, miserable black metal seems to be a particular strong point, and add Enisum to that list. ‘Seasons of Desolation is the follow up to their much praised ‘Arpitanian Lands’ from 2015, and it is out at the end of April on Avantgarde Music. Almost an hour of miserable black metal awaits.

Opener ‘Autumn of Melancholy’ is a monolith of gloomy despair, where raspy shrieks soar within icy riffs and a weeping atmosphere. A masterfully cold and misty forest of an album, ‘Seasons of Desolation’ keep going back to the well with dark, dense riffing and insidiously glorious melody underneath. Songs fight against the darkness, aching to break through the clouds of hopelessness but can’t ever quite make it. Infernal streams of molten black metal pour from ‘…of Desolation’, while a cloying rain soaks the depressing ‘Nameless Sadness’.

The crushingly brutal ‘Obscure Depths’ is my favourite track here, taking a slightly heavier approach. Enisum are perfect for that rainy spring day, when the odd crack of sunshine appears through torrential rain. Built and crafted for misery but plagued with moments of hope, ‘Seasons of Desolation’ is a tour de force of black metal excellence, steeped in depressive moods. Well worth finding.

https://avantgardemusic.bandcamp.com/album/seasons-of-desolation

https://www.facebook.com/enisum/

http://www.avantgardemusic.com/

For all it may lack in the traditions and anarchy of the Norwegian scene, the American black metal scene has some incredible musicians in it. Highland are the newest addition, releasing their debut full length ‘Loyal to the Nightsky’ in May via Bandcamp. This is some exhilarating black metal for traditionalists, with relentless riffing from start to finish.

From the use of the word ‘Nightsky’ in the album title, you may think that you’Ll be getting some kind of Emperor knock-off here, but that is certainly not the case. Highland may lack the grandeur of Emperor but that in no way means that they lack the finesse. They are visceral and almost early Satyricon like in their execution. Take the savagely direct ‘Towards the Absolute’ as example; cold buzzing riffs swirl around combinations of blasting and more straightforward drumming, while a scathing yet easily comprehensible snarl leads us onward. There are more gloomy tracks too, where the bile is toned back a bit, like parts of ‘Abu Sindi’, or the intro to the dark ‘Immortal Queen’.

The menacing ‘Burning in Forgotten Times’ is my highlight; a bleak crawl into the void with some doomy riffs (rad Iommi-isms) and a overwhelming negativity about it. But you could take most of the songs here and find purest second wave worship of the highest order. Like a more waspish Marduk, or Impaled Nazarene, Highland show that the USBM scene isn’t just atmospheric sky staring, but there is a bleak, cold and ruthless set as well. Feel the icy rage of ‘Wallachian Night Terror’ and tell me I’m wrong.

https://highlandmetal.bandcamp.com/album/loyal-to-the-nightsky

https://www.facebook.com/highland666

Cold. Bleak. Depressing as fuck. Probably the three most important elements of the self titled debut of None, hailing from the miserable Pacific Northwest. This three track EP is full of gloriously bleak moments, and Hypnotic Dirge is releasing it in April, when hopefully the wintry feelings that this invokes will be gone.

Opener ‘Cold’ is exactly that. Numb keyboard melodies lurk within a dense buzzing soundscape of snow and ice, while howling screams loom from the darkness. Take out the vocals, and it could be a soundtrack to a helicopter ride over forested tundras. It is seriously atmospheric; the aural equivalent of snow falling on a lonely forest. ‘Wither’ has a tremendous intro, with building piano and acoustic guitar that hits this huge glacier of tremolo riff that hums menacingly just out of reach.

None have come from nowhere to unleash this masterpiece of depressive and atmospheric black metal upon the world. The heartwrenching piano that closes ‘Suffer’ is one of the most delicate and lonely moments in music, and it gives an aching closure to the EP as a whole. None are incredible; ghostly and haunting to the extreme, this EP will shake your beliefs in black metal savagery to the core. I remember when Emperor’s ‘Into the Infinity of Thoughts’ redefined my impressions of black metal, and this has done the same.

http://www.hypnoticdirgerecords.com/hypnotic-dirge-webstore.php

https://hypnoticdirgerecords.bandcamp.com/album/selftitled

 

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The debut EP of Consummation is something of great note, as these Australian destroyers have crafted a uniquely twisting and serpentine form of black/death that sucks in all light like the gaping jaws of infinity. Thanks to Invictus Productions, we all now have the chance to experience pure, unadulterated madness in musical form.

Opener ‘The Weightless Grip of Fire’ is fearsome in its scope; blending ferocious black metal and an off-kilter sense of rhythm that enhances that otherworldly feeling. You feel uneasy, uncomfortable and cowed with fear as howling madness sweeps through your bones. They don’t quite reach the same levels of nausea created by fellow Aussies Portal, but there’s a definitive ‘wrongness’ about some of the melody lines here. With two ten minute plus songs, Consummation somehow manage to go past too quickly to comprehend, and invite more and more listens to unlock this dark magic.

‘Blighted Ovum’ is more of the same, labyrinthine extremity that we started with. Savage howls, a dense production that really helps the heft of this record come through, and an alien atmosphere that builds the tension to breaking point. ‘Ritual Severance’ is grandiose, malignant and bubbling with cancerous hatred. Consummation are an outfit that have struck upon something new and intensely evil.

https://www.facebook.com/Consummation-467538346610266/

https://invictusproductions666.bandcamp.com/album/ritual-severance

Now I have been waiting a long time for this. I first came across Mountains Crave a few years ago with their track ‘The Violet Hour’, and have slavered in hope that a full length would eventually appear. And here it is, the enigmatically titled ‘As We Were When We Were Not’, coming out on Avantgarde Music in May. Something bleak and black for the coming spring!

Opener ‘Ynisvitrin’ opens with ritualistic whispering before a cold, bleak black metal riff takes us far from our safe, warm place. Bleak, depressing black metal is the name of the game here, with hypnotic melodies soaring above a frozen waste. Far more melodic than it has any right to be, Mountains Crave have injected a vastness and a glorious atmosphere here. The ethereal delights of ‘Clear Light of the Void’ sounds like if Isis had made black metal instead of post metal. It is expansive, melodic and yet intensely grim in parts.

The grasp of dynamic shifts in pacing, volume and ferocity here is staggering. Effortlessly darting between blasting torrents of ferocious black metal and delicate, contemplative acoustics, Mountains Crave have designed and crafted one of the most starkly beautiful records I’ve come across in years. The shimmering open to ‘O Arise Magnificent Sun’ is breathtaking, as is the soaring keyboards. If for whatever reason you are sleeping on this band or this record, then wake up now, because these guys could be the next Wolves in the Throne Room. A stunning record.

https://avantgardemusic.bandcamp.com/album/as-we-were-when-we-were-not

https://www.facebook.com/mountainscrave

http://www.avantgardemusic.com/

Impavidus - Eradication of Mankind

I reviewed Impavidus’s demo recently here on the blog, and they’ve returned with a new four track EP called ‘Eradication of Mankind’. This continues their journey creating some of the more interesting melodeath to come out of this country for a while. It is out on the 29th March via Bandcamp.

Gloomy, blasting opener ‘Reprisal’ pulls no punches immediately, with haunting clean vocals twisting around the chunky riffing. The raspy screams of vocalist Michelle Adamson works well with the ragged melodies and chunky groove. There’s a more overt death metal influence on ‘Eradication of Mankind’, but I can’t say I’m overly convinced on the use of the clean vocals on ‘Lies’, which treads the fine line between extremity and commercial metal a bit too closely for me.

The fantastic ‘Void’ rescues that for me, with some delightfully galloping melodeath riffing and earworm melodies proving to be a hit, and closing with the almost sultry menace of ‘XII’ really puts a stamp on that Impavidus ‘sound’. They don’t sound like anyone else, and while ‘Eradication of Mankind’ has the odd stumble, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

https://impavidus.bandcamp.com/album/eradication-of-mankind-ep

https://www.facebook.com/impavidusuk/

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Lock Howl, from the grey north of Scotland, come to me described as a post punk band drenched in reverb, with touches of black metal in there too. Now, as a reviewer who salivates at the idea of something out of the norm, ‘Pareidolia’ sounds like a very interesting prospect indeed…

‘The Seventh Room’ opens the record with an eerie incantation before the gloomy, post punk vibes take over. Like a black metal version of Type O Negative, there’s definite savagery hidden amongst the reverb loaded riffs. A pervasive melody lurks within ‘Nephilim’, while the dark influences of the likes of Joy Division comes through on the gloomy ‘Into the Darkness. Into the Unknown’. It is a sound that, when pierced by a savage black metal moment, works really well.

There also seems to be a great resemblance to In Solitude; while removing the King Diamond-esque worship, the miserable heavy metal riffs stay, and you get a similar vibe here. I really like the propulsive ‘Graveless’, which builds gracefully with an infectious melody line that burns its way into your mind. ‘And She Was Found by the Lake’ is a melancholic beauty; a powerful piece of emotional turmoil. ‘Pareidolia’ is a rewarding album with plenty of  awesome little moment, you’ll have to listen to it twice.

https://www.facebook.com/LockHowlBand/

https://lockhowl.bandcamp.com/