Posts Tagged ‘black metal’

Umbra Conscientia - Yellowing of the Lunar Consciousness

Review by Sandre The Giant

I like to find music from all corners of the globe, particularly places where I haven’t really explored before. Central America is one of those places, and the debut record from Costa Rican (and German) black metal duo Umbra Conscientia had me intrigued from the getgo. ‘Yellowing of the Lunar Consciousness’ came out late last year through Terratur Possessions.

The eerie ambience of the intro ‘El caos que precede a la creación’ immediately prepares you for music coming that is not always of this world. ‘Maze of Exile’ erupts with blasting black metal ferocity, blastbeats peppering a landscape of scything guitar and shrieking roars. Umbra Conscientia are intense, a pyroclastic flow of prime black metal riffs cascade through the fiery ‘Romance of Contradictions’ and the caustic, bilious fury of ‘Citrinitas’. You can feel the influence of Marduk or Funeral Mist on these guys; the relentless push forward through violent impacts. ‘Umbra Conscientia’ thunders like a raging tornado of hate fuelled black metal glory, while the scabrous riffing of ‘Lord of Phosphorus’ may be even more visceral and hypodermic sharp.

Closing with the mesmerising, undulating devastation of the title track, ‘Yellowing of the Lunar Consciousness’ is an album that challenges your perceptions of just how savage and hellish black metal can be without descending into lo-fi clattering and murk. Aided by a razor sharp production, Umbra Conscientia have crafted an album that lays fire upon all that has come before it and challenges anyone to pick up the mantle and take them on. I wouldn’t if I were you…

Review by Sandre the Giant

The trve Norwegian theme runs deep through this debut demo from raw black metallers Skarntyde. Their name is the Norwegian name for ‘poisonous hemlock’, which any self respecting druid will know is nasty stuff, and their lyrics and song titles are all Norwegian too. Nasty, second wave worship is what we are in for here. it is out now through their Bandcamp.

Opener ‘Sult’ is an exercise in the cathartic power of proper raw black metal. Scalding riffs breathe fire over snarling vocals and an impenetrable drum battery in the background. The concept of the album follows the sparrowhawk in its hunger and hunt for prey. It is a really interesting concept for an EP to contain and follow, and it works. The eagerness of ‘Fokus’, searching for prey amongst savage riffs. ‘Jakten’, the hunt itself with a pensive guitar building into the crescendoing attack run. ‘Ferskt Blod’, rife with the fresh kill, blood drenched vocals scouring harsh, midpaced black metal and ‘Fred’, a dark sense of satisfaction and completeness.

I love the idea that ‘Spurvehauk’ builds upon, and with each track you can imagine the drama unfold in your mind. The pure violence of nature, captured within icy raw riffing and primal shrieks and growls. ‘Spurvehauk’ is an intrguing proposition whose concept elevates it above most raw black metal I’ve heard in recent memory.

Bezwering - Aan de wormen overgeleverd

From the ashes of Dutch black metallers Wederganger comes Bezwering, and their fearsome debut ‘Aan de wormen overgeleverd’. The Netherlands is sometimes overlooked as a breeding ground for superb metal, and there is far more to them than just Pestilence and Within Temptation. ‘Aan de wormen overgeleverd’ is out now through Ván Records.

The constant barrage of classic black metal riffing that flows through opener ‘Vredeloos’ is a statement of intent that is reinforced by every track. But Bezwering, which translates to ‘incantation’ in Dutch, are not one dimensional. They can be relentless like Marduk, atmospheric like Emperor and bleakly frozen like Darkthrone. In fact, in their more grandiose moments the vocals can resemble Til Lindemann which is no bad thing, like the majestic ‘Rouwstoet’. There’s plenty of odd atonal moments, reminiscient of the likes of Deathspell Omega, and the striding ‘Aan gene zijde’ is a melodic triumph. Bezwering are a band of many facets, and ‘Aan de wormen overgeleverd’ showcases the range rather well.

From the swaggering blackness of ‘Terror terroris’ to the darkly operatic thrust of ‘Geen bloemen op mijn graf’, Bezwering are a slippery proposition. While bringing you plenty of traditional black metal, ‘Aan de wormen overgeleverd’ is plenty capable of providing a number of surprises, and none of them bad. One of 2020’s most interesting records.

Automb - Esoterica

The debut record from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Automb came out in 2018, but ‘Esoterica’ is an album that I’ve just found lurking in my collection. It was released by Satanath Records and looks to claim a place in the slowly overcrowding American black metal scene. Their new album is out this year, so it makes sense to visit this first.

After the gloomy intro title track, we get the even gloomier harshness of ‘Horned God’ which, even though it brings fiery riffing and some killer drumming seems to be smothered in this dense melancholy. The guitar tone is sharp and precise; there’s a little bit of Hypocrisy in there and the savage thrust of ‘Mourned’ is a potent track among an album littered with them. ‘Call of Hekate’ ripples with the kind of melodic leads that Dissection would’ve been proud of, while the blasting ‘Blood Moon’ reminds you that the brimstone fury is still very much a driving force underneath ‘Esoterica’s blackened bonnet.

‘Esoterica’ is a strong debut, full of ferocious black metal shot through with a little Gothenburg guitarwork. But the regal bleakness of ‘Frozen’ is an example of where Automb are capable of taking their sound if they should decide. I’m going to search out their new record with a little more urgency now. Excellent.

Wolvencrown - Of Bark and Ash

British black metal continues to go from strength to strength, and last year we had the debut of another band drawing inspiration from this ancient land. Wolvencrown’s debut ‘Of Bark and Ash’ is out now through Avantgarde Music.

Opener ‘Earth’s Eternal Dawn’ plys a well worn furrow of pagan black metal; a mid paced riff that grinds hypnotically underneath a spectral synth and a raspy snarl. I love this ghostly atmosphere, it haunts each song like a misting rain. The two part ‘1194’ is steeped deeply in second wave mysticism, beset with gloomy blasting on all sides. ‘Infernal Throne’ is full of propulsive melody flowing again within that atmospheric shroud, and there’s something very British about that style these days. There’s a little touch of Drudkh though about the winding ‘Towards Broken Depths’, and some Panopticon seeping through ‘Destined’ as well. The Cascadian and Ukrainian black metal influences are far ranging these days as well.

‘Of Bark and Ash’ is an inspirational record that flows like an olden river, shrouded with ghostly mist and haunting melodies. Poignant and breathtaking at points, Wolvencrown are a welcome addition to the thriving black metal scene here on these ancient isles. More please!

The debut album from Los Angeles black/death metallers Azath features members of Draghkar, Ripped to Shreds, Falsehood and Lord Gore so you can kind of guess what kind of fetid, foul noise lurks beneath the monochrome beauty of the artwork. ‘Through a Warren of Shadow’ is out now through Pulverised Records.

After the opening ‘Into the Charnel’ sets the scene ominously, first track proper ‘Draconian Impalement’ instantly kicks in with a raw death metal assault. Riffs slice through the air with rusted precision, while guttural vocals belch and roar through a thick, swampy black metal atmosphere. The band’s mission statement is to play as fast as possible without becoming a grind band, and the kick of songs like ‘The Whirlwind’ and the howling rage of ‘Mortal Sword’ certainly achieve that aim. There’s a certain clattering chaos that really gives you a feeling of unhinged madness that I quite like, particularly my personal favourite track ‘Knight of Chains’, although the grinding nihilism of ‘Children of the Dead Seed’ pushes it very close.

Azath’s debut is fiery, raw and uncompromising. It barely stops for breath apart from the odd morbid interlude, and this commitment to honing their craft to a razor’s edge has served them well, because ‘Through a Warren of Shadow’ is a consistent barrage of necrotic psalms being spat out from your nearest swamp. Fucking brilliant.

Necrochaos - Crawling Through Cadavers

Released as a three track demo last year, German black/death/doom metallers Necrochaos have had their ‘Crawling Through Cadavers’ rereleased by Godz Ov War Productions, including two extra bonus tracks exclusive to the CD release. What lies beneath is dark, dense and at times truly horrifying.

The opening title track is a blitzkrieg of serpentine riffing, drenched in an atonal murk that feels very otherworldly. A cacophonous battery assaults the ears while an unholy growl roars from the very depths of existence. This is supremely nasty stuff, an endless torrent of hellacious guitar tone and guttural roars. ‘Disgrace is His Law’ barely stops for breath, while the black magma crawl of ‘Once the Blood Clots’ is suffocating and relentless. The tempo changes show that Necrochaos can handle blistering speed and a monolithic trudge where necessary. ‘Engulfed in Chaos’ is replete with the former, while closer ‘Caves of Void’ brings the latter with power.

As an opening salvo to a career, Necrochaos couldn’t have hoped for a better result. ‘Crawling Through Cadavers’ is a tour de force of suffocating, miasmic death metal with doom breakdowns and blackened atmosphere. A melting pot of tremendous potential.

Ygg - The Last Scald

Cult Ukrainian black metallers Ygg are back with their second album, ‘The Last Scald’, four tracks that stretch to over 50 minutes. It has been nine years since their self titled debut, and with this mournful album art, we can guess we are in for a bleak pagan journey here. It is out now through Ashen Dominion.

Opener ‘Мёртвые топи’ builds with tribal drumming and the haunting twang of a vargan (jawharp) before a thick black metal riff comes in and we are off. The guitar is relentless, accompanied by some great howls and some ghostly atmospherics in the background. The pace barely lets up for the full sixteen minutes, and when it does slow down the biting cold remains. An ode to Slavic paganism and mysticism, which always has a kind of cold mystery to it, ‘The Last Scald’ is cloaked in Eastern gloom. The rain soaked misery of ‘Последний cкальд’ has more than a dash of Drudkh to it, but owes as much Burzum as well, and it becomes an album that you don’t just listen to, you feel every biting wind, every drop of ice and every inch of ancient storytelling.

‘The Last Scald’ isn’t quite impenetrable but the glistening mist that cloaks every note Ygg play really ramps up the atmosphere. From the soaring intensity and menacing interlude of ‘В надежде о Вечном’ to the closing breaths of the beautiful blackness of ‘Віса пробудження’, Ygg are captivating and ‘The Last Scald is a record of grim majesty. I love it, and hopefully you will too.

Black Pestilence - Hail the Flesh

Canada is well known for pumping out excellent metal bands, and Black Pestilence are slowly carving out a collection of records that will add them to that litany. My personal experience with them began on 2015’s ‘Outsiders’, and their latest, ‘Hail the Flesh’, is a record of thrashy black metal that is out now through their Bandcamp.

The energy of the opening title track is pretty infectious, with a punkish catchiness embracing the blackened thrash tightly. The riffing is very old school thrash, bringing to mind the likes of Midnight or Toxic Holocaust but with a more old school Venom vibe. This is a very traditional record in that sense; ensuring their songs are rapid firing riff monsters, ready to melt down any pit they meet. Each song is undeniably memorable, from the melodic powerhouse ‘Hellfire’ to the thrashing rampage of ‘Frauds to the Throne’. The black metal influence on the atmosphere of ‘Hail the Flesh’ is more subtle; with frequent doses of blastbeats, rasping snarls and a cold bleakness in places, it enhances the memorable nature of songs like ‘Cloven Division’. There are also noise elements that rear their ugly head every so often, most prominently in the distorted soundscape of the final ‘Ephemeral’.

The infusion of punk attitude into black and thrash metal seems almost natural at times, but few carry it off with such a sense of melody and catchiness as Black Pestilence. Their heady mix of 80s skate thrash, punk attitude and a black metal sheen allows ‘Hail the Flesh’ to be an album that you’ll still be humming in 6 months time. Superb

Wolves in Exile - Frost and Ruin

Featuring current and past members of Baalberith, Deadwood Lake and Skiddaw, British black metallers Wolves in Exile have definitely got an underground pedigree that I am very familiar with. Their debut album ‘Frost and Ruin’ comes armed with as much traditional black metal as you can handle, but doused with symphonic and melodic elements. It is now through UKEM Records.

The opening track, ‘Frozen Underground’ is full of powering blastbeats, rapidfire tremolo riffing and yet is in no way one dimensional. There are some really nice synth and keyboards working later on in the song, when the pace drops a little.  Add in touches of atmospheric lead guitar solos and you’ve got an instant hit in terms of dynamics on show. Each song benefits greatly from a touch of orchestration every so often, from the piano led intro to ‘The Night Madness’ to the bleak grandiosity of ‘Mirror and Prophecy’. The keyboards etc rarely take over and become overbearing, which is gladly appreciated in this. Symphonic black metal has a tendency to become too overwrought, but Wolves in Exile balance this nicely.

If you like early Dimmu Borgir, and wondered what it would be like if the full orchestras hadn’t taken over, then Wolves in Exile are a similar proposition. The songwriting and musicianship is strong, the album art is glorius and songs like ‘The Ancient Red Lake’ and particularly the closing ‘River of Thorns’, laced with more than a sliver of Cradle of Filth and Bal-Sagoth, serve to highlight the obvious talent here. ‘Frost and Ruin’ feels like a promise of more to come, and steps out from long shadows to have its day in the cold sun.