Written by: Izzy
2019, I can pretty confidently say, was “the year of black metal” for me. Not only was the quantity of good black metal extremely high, but the quality of the best releases was unheard of. Normally every year I find maybe 3-5 albums in most of my favourite genres that I love and hold onto, but 2019 gave me TWELVE (12) black metal albums I’ve revisited since the year's end, some of them half a dozen times by now. Amongst those phenomenal albums was Serpent Column’s Mirror In Darkness, my first brush with the band, which certainly set my expectations high and they were quickly fulfilled by their EP/mini album Endless Detainment from earlier this year. I was blown away and already left extremely impressed, but clearly even that wasn’t enough for Serpent Column as shortly after it was followed up by their latest opus, and topic of today’s discussion, Kathodos.
Written by: The Administrator
The wayward creation of this review is not reflective of the typical process 'round these parts. After (seemingly) completing the damn thing, our various devices capable of updating the website encountered a Series of Unfortunate Events, resulting, as ye may have noticed a few weeks back, in a marked lack of content. Long story short: the review in original form was largely consumed by the technology gods. However, the unexpected setback provided an opportunity to throw this split back into rotation, crank out a few more listens, and subsequently rebuild the review from the ground up. The opportunity for refinement was too much to pass up, and so here we are, fashionably late, clenching a fourth and final draft in white-knuckled grasp.
But you aren't here for the sob story or long and winding intro. Let's dive right in, shall we?
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Lately, I’m noticing a resurgence of death metal bands that really slam that “caveman” description deep into the molding foundations of the once stiff walls. More often than not, you’ll find that in many a doom/death release. Finland’s Proscription consists of band members who have been around for a while, touching many projects in their time. This one paints horrific, drawn-out doomy vocals over music that’s far more blackened death metal oriented, and the outcome is Conduit.
Before diving in head first, you need to know it’s an album that requires the right setting and mood. No distractions, little light, and the hunger for riffs that drag you deeper into the murky depths of unlight. A bit dramatic? Probably. But Proscription are all about the feeling and less about the musical makeup. The entire foundation relies on layers of tremolo picking backed by rumbling bass that can only be felt. The drums are utilized to take precedence when the guitars whine and screech, using agonizing wails to breathe out and force the rhythms behind the kit upward.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Skeleton are another one of those bands we get a couple of per year that blow up seemingly overnight. Hailing from Austin, Texas, they bring forth a common but solid brand of death/thrash/black metal that touches many a fanbase. Pairing this with the fact that they’re (apparently) big in their local scene, they’ve caused a lot of hype. More often than not, this leads me to disappointment, but thankfully that isn’t the case with their debut record Skeleton.
Getting it out on the table now, this band is all over the place. Certain things can be picked out to observe each style. The riffing aesthetic is from a thrashier standpoint, the drumming and rhythmic integrity comes from the death metal ideals, and the vocals cast blackened mold that seeps into the foundation everywhere else in small doses. But even with that rather stable construct, the songwriting jumps all across the spectrum, running into hell and back. Admittedly, this is Skeleton’s only flaw, seeing how often the mood jumps around. The lack of flow forces the blackened feel to act as the only adhesive.
Written by: Lord Hsrah
The last ten or so days have been immensely heavy for me, I must confess. I'm not sure if this is the aftermath of the lockdown or is it just the feelies, but my existential dread and depressive episodes have never been this high before. It's been real doom and gloom hours. These aren't those times when the 3AM feels hit you, you cry yourself to sleep and the next morning you're all ready and up to face whatever's coming at you--no, no, no--these are the hard ones that persist for days. In this absolutely down-and-out period, Australian depressive black metal outfit Cancer's Opioid has been an ethereal companion to me, and while coping has been tough, there's solace in knowing I'm not alone. Let's talk.
Written by: The Administrator
After a certifiably...chaotic month (or two, let's be real,) this particularly sleep-deprived scribe is back in the saddle of his continuous apology tour. Next stop? Time to cover a raw 'n' gritty demo by Diabolical Reign, a duo comprised, in part, by our very own Voiceless Apparition aka Lord Begravelvase on drums and vocals. One Nox Secuutus rounds out the outfit for this demo, which was recorded back in 2015 when the guys were mere adolescents exploring an (evident) heartfelt love of the rawer fringes of black metal.
And raw this is, albeit in the sense we purveyors of the rare and bloody yearn for. Icy riffs and production compliment both a forthright aggression and a chillblained droning sensibility. The drums are distant--a valley away--and the vocals are as tortured and troat-wrenching as ye might expect. And, icing on the cake: once you get past the abrasive sonic quality, some truly ear-catching compositions are apparent in the frosty static--take the blistering "Annihilation" or the aggressively morose "Doom's Elegant Robe" as prime examples. The latter track is my favorite herein, as it balances the blackened bite with a distinctly doomy dread. Black doom metal is an environ worth exploration, and it's excellent to see little sparks here and there, even if confined to a project from the past.
In sum: if raw black metal is yer speed, this evil lil' demo is certainly worth your while. Also, it's, like, Name Your Own Price. You quite literally can't go wrong. Give Diabolical Reign a listen (and give The Voiceless Apparition a follow, while yer at it.)
Diabolical Reign - Shadows in a Winter's Night was released July 4th, 2020
Diabolical Reign can be found:
Written by: Volt Thrower
Drainbow! No, it's not a psychedelic effect of household cleaning supplies, it’s the eclectic, ambitious project of solo act extraordinaire Nick Sarcophagus, who brings us his debut long player The Tower of Flints. A dark twisting journey of extremities, whether it be the bounds of genre, or the limits of nature's capacity to sustain, viewed through the lens of her most vulnerable inhabitants. “To the victor the spoils," which just so happens to be whoever lays ears on this record.
I love it when an album's cover art perfectly encapsulates the sound found within, and this is a great example. A tip of the cap to Sarah Allen Reed for another work of art, really summing up the beautiful yet harsh reality of the natural world surrounding us. From its most tranquil moments of animal calls and keys, to its most frenetic of wails and galloping progressions, the story is to be found within the walls of said art.
In the rush to cover the constant waves of new music, we all too often neglect discussing the releases that leave the most substantial impressions in our lives. As such, we recently invited some bands and artists to wax poetic about an album that was deeply impactful or influential to them, either musically or personally. The next guest in line to graciously offer a retrospective in this series is one Aaron Palmer, sole member of raw black metal/black n' roll entity Rage of Devils--who, incidentally, is dropping a mean album in a few short weeks. Once yer done reading this retrospective, check out Infernal Embraces' available singles here!
Written by: Aaron Palmer
I went through several years where, for multiple reasons, I wasn't enjoying metal.
One of the hallmarks of OCD is intrusive thoughts. Irrational thoughts that come into your head out of nowhere, but feel so gut-wrenchingly real that you can't help but give them credence. Mine started in 2011, and they told me that I wasn't “allowed” to like metal.
Simply saying that doesn't convey the fear that came with those thoughts. It was a sick feeling in my stomach that I was doing something wrong by listening to metal. It wasn't based in anything real; no religious background was responsible, for example. My head just told me that I wasn't allowed to listen to my favorite music, and my insides turned to water.
Written by: Adam Paris
This is an album for staring into the ocean, watching the respiring of the sea, until your vision goes out of focus and you are no longer able to tell whether the shapes and shadows you see are a product of you or the waters. It is the kind of immersion in which the self is, for a moment, dissolved into something larger. This is an album that clears space and moves you through it--or moves it around you.
The album opens with 'The Grave Receives You': we feel a storm approaching over vast plains; the cold wind before a hailstorm; and, then: it breaks over us, guitar striking chaotically amid a vortex of drums, creating a dizzying rotary speaker effect.
Written by: Loveloth
Gather 'round, everyone. Let me tell you a short story. Abdul Alhazred, like any foolish mortal, thought he could evade the cosmos' grasp. Many years ago, around 700 A.D., Abdul spent a decade studying ruins of ancient cities before disappearing into the desert. After his return, he spent his final days in Damascus, and it was there that he unveiled the cursed book--The Necronomicon. There laid information which should've remained hidden.
In 738, his punishment finally came; The Mad Arab disappeared without a trace and many wondered what was the reason behind, for they knew he dabbled with black magick and worshipped otherworldly beings. No one knows what exactly happened to him, but the book prevailed and got translated into Greek, Latin, German and eventually English. The whereabouts of the book and its copies are unknown and trust me, it's for the better. Whoever read its pages faced madness, death, or worse. That book is pure evil and I would advise you, dear reader, to not chase that knowledge so many before you have. But what do I know for I am just a mere mortal, just like you. Or am I?
Whatever the case, it seems the spirit of The Mad Arab lives on, and in this particular case, lives through Esoctrilihum.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!