Posts Tagged ‘Atmospheric Black Metal’

Witcher - A gyertyák csonkig égnek

The second full length album from Hungarian atmospheric black metallers Witcher, ‘A gyertyák csonkig égnek’ is out now through Filosofem Records, and it is chock full of glorious melody, soaring gloom and necrotic black metal rawness. An intoxicating idea, no?

The opening title track build with some delicate keyboards, swelling synth and weeping guitar, and while this feels very light and spacious, there is a dark, necro heart beating underneath. The croaky rasp of the vocals adds a certain edge to proceedings, just as the sense of scale adds a layer of majesty. It is the longest track here but never outstays its welcome. Following with the gloomy, piano led ‘Feloldozás’, there is a definitive Eastern European melancholy about this work.

It brings to mind a more delicate Drudkh; perhaps you wouldn’t go as far as calling them symphonic black metal but the keyboard instrumentations are just as key as the more traditional black metal tropes, and this collaboration is possibly best illustrated in the superb ‘Az én csendemben’, where the blasting misery of the intro opens up into this vast, bleak soundscape. Vocally the rasping growl works well, keeping the music grounded.

‘A gyertyák csonkig égnek’ is a gorgeous album, created with a palette of the palest whites, the bleakest greys and the deathly blacks. Grandiose, miserable and ambitious, even finishing with their take on some Tchaikovsky, Witcher’s work is a welcome break from bands who think ‘atmosphere’ is just blastbeats behind a synth. Mesmerising stuff!

Earth and Pillars - Earth II

The glorious cover artwork for Earth and Pillar’s newest record, Earth II’ evokes many feelings but mostly for me the idea that atmospheric black metal and nature work so well together, even when not the stereotypical frozen wilderness. ‘Earth II’ is out now through Avantgarde Music.

Opener ‘Becoming’ grows with glorious synth swells and clean guitar, before the distortion and the snarls appear. But the atmosphere remains majestic with the ethereal backdrop and clean guitar melody flowing around the more traditional black metal instrumentation. There’s a wistful longing about this track, that seeps through into each of the others. ‘Falling’ flows like a raging mountain torrent, Cascadian black metal riffs pouring from the guitars. There is no let up from the relentless battering here until the last minute or so but it is invigorating! This perfect mix of synth led atmosphere, clean guitar and raging black metal is truly breathtaking in places, and I particularly was drawn to the mesmerising third track ‘Ascending’.

‘Earth II’ is a record of sweeping majestic, melancholy and savage blasts of black metal fury. Often this kind of black metal can feel overly long, repetitive or monotonous but Earth and Pillars fall into none of those traps. ‘Earth II’ is a glorious monolith to Cascadian black metal done right, and this is a record full of dark beauty.

Irillion - Fatanyu

This is the second EP from Venezuelan atmospheric black metallers Irillion, and ‘Fatanyu’ looks to build from 2016’s debut, ‘Egledhron’, It is out now through the band’s Bandcamp.

The opening title track begins bleak and cold, and then descends into hellish growls and raspy guitarwork. Generally, you’ll expect ‘atmospheric’ to mean ghostly or ethereal, but Irillion conjure up choking atmospheres of brimstone and poisonous flames. The pummelling murk of ‘Belzoond’ is equally dark and miasmic, while closer ‘Meneltarma’ does have a little more breathing room but is essentially more of this dense, gurgling darkness. The South Americans have always excelled at new levels of rawness and evil when it comes to extreme music, so this fits in very well with continental greats.

A claggy, suffocating EP that has a lot of potential to put Irillion on the map. The riffs are venomous, the atmosphere is thick and dense and the vocals are like the belch of Satan himself. This is a killer EP and I look forward to more.

Starless Domain - EOS

Originally released in January this year, ‘EOS’ is a record that truly sums up the name of the band, Starless Domain, in the most perfect way. This is a single track, 58 minute trip into the blackest, deepest parts between the stars; into the vast cosmic abyss where music is just not going to be the same… This is released by Aesthetic Death in my part of the world, and the band in the US.

A mammoth piece, originally split into four movements by technical limitations but now all back to one epic soundscape of galaxial shift and void misery, ‘EOS’ is a vast undertaking. Opening with spacey, dreamy synths and echoing shrieks, it soon devolves (or evolves depending on your point of view) into a howling miasma of suffocation riffs and tones. Pure murk spews from the speakers, while a vortex of icy vocals howl in a relentless hurrican of utter darkness. Eerie effects skitter across the torrent, adding to ther strange ‘otherness’ that permeates this whole work.

There are moments of calm within this blasting density, and punctuated by these it makes ‘EOS’ feel all the more devastating. Wavering, atonal notes shudder in the black. ‘EOS’ is truly haunting; filled to breaking point with unorthodox melodies and eerie effects but still keeping the power of black metal alive. Starless Domain have created something that feels half as long, but just as awe inspiring. ‘EOS’ is more of an experience than just music, so sink in and ready yourself for oblivion.

The stunning artwork that wraps around Sojourner’s ‘The Shadowed Road’ is what first drew me to it. You can feel that something beautiful lurks beneath this abandoned castle, something dark and fantastical. Sojourner cross swords from two continents and three countries, and ‘The Shadowed Road’ is out now through Avantgarde Music.

The gloroiusly epic piano and guitar intro to ‘Winter’s Slumber’ should prepare you for the grandiosity within. The interplay between the harsher, black metal moments and the ethereal, female vocal led parts is really well done, and doesn’t feel forced. The mesmerising soar of ‘Titan’ follows, with more of the same amazing melodies running throughout. Sojourner strike upon a delicate balance, where the icy cold rasp of frigid black metal meets a warm, folk music atmosphere and creates a whirlwind of evocative and fragile beauty. I love ‘An Oath Sworn in Sorrow’, the way neither the black metal or the haunting female folk parts take a back seat; both are equally important to Sojourner’s sound.

By the time the stunning ‘Where Lost Hope Lies’ leads through into the closing title track, you will be left sitting breathless and exhilirated. This is a blistering, inspiring and moving record that will blow your mind and deserves to be shown to the wide world, for only then will it receive the respect and plaudits it deserves.

Saor - Forgotten Paths

The magnificent journey of Saor since its formation in 2013 has been one of graceful beauty and epic Celtic, atmospheric black metal. This one man project hails from the holy land (yeah, Scotland, the best country) and the new record ‘Forgotten Paths’ looks to continue the legacy. It’ll be released in February through Avantgarde Music.

The opening title track features Neige from Alcest, who couldn’t be a more perfect guest spot, and starts our epic journey. The song feels vast, spreading like a howling, furious wind over rich but desolate lands, where no one has tread foot for centuries. When the fury dies back to delicate piano, we reach a whole new plain of existence; ethereal keys build to a stunning Celtic soundscape powered by blastbeats but drowning in atmosphere. This pattern is recreated with timeless majestic in the evocative, soaring ‘Monadh’, while the Drudkh-esque ‘Bron’ reasserts the black metal credentials. ‘Forgotten Paths’ closes with ‘Exile’, a soothing piece that marks the end of an epic quest and a heartrending journey.

The greatest thing about Saor is that it makes you switch off from everything when you’re listening to it. You know, sometimes you listen to music while reading, while cleaning, while doing other things. Not ‘Forgotten Paths’. I sat absorbed in every little part and couldn’t do anything else. This is already probably my album of the year, and it will take another masterpiece to take it down. Jesus this is so good.

Utburd - The Horrors Untold

Man, Russia must be a dark, grim and depressing place to live, if the high quality of miserable black metal that snakes its way out of the country is anything to go by. Utburd, a one man bleak atmospheric black metal project, has released ‘The Horrors Untold’ earlier this year through Satanath Records, and it is a mesmerising plunge into the darkest parts of the great, grim north.

Opener ‘Rise of Dagon’ begins with glacial guitar that steadily bleeds into a weeping ooze of traditional black metal. ‘The Horrors Untold’ has a lot more narrative running through it than a lot of depressive/atmospheric black metal, like the creepy ‘Mystery of Joseph Karven’ or the coldness of ‘Death from Mount Tempest’. It isn’t just waves of riffing without structure, it manouevres deftly between scowling second wave and a grasp of the atonal, the off kilter. The title track is a looming beast of gloom and bleak darkness, swamped in ethereal atmospherics but with a satisfying heft to it.

Utburd’s black metal is definitely depressive and atmospheric but it doesn’t fall into the tedious, monotonous traps that many of this genre can. There is plenty of variety, cool riffing and a plethora of melancholic melody lines to get lost in. ‘He, Who Paints in Red’ is the best example from a record that shimmers with glacial fury.