Sunday, 2 August 2020

Black Curse - Endless Wound


April 2020 | Sepulchral Voice Records

All too often go supergroups get formed, and all too often they crush and burn. The first time I heard Black Curse's demo in late 2019 I had no clue about the band members and kind of moved on after I listened to it a couple of times, noticing some rather good tracks but that was it. Only when the debut Endless Wound came around in April, I noticed the talk the album raised and looked closer to the line up, which includes people from impressive bands in modern underground extreme metal from the US (specifically: Spectral Voice, Khemmis, Primitive Man, Blood Incantation). However, the record would have been an even bigger bummer if it didn't deliver, yet it totally does. Black Curse stomp through with a murky, aggressive approach to black / death metal, with generous doses of slower rhythm parts that bring up a little bit of doom, highly venomous solos all around and above all, the most amazing characteristic of it, the vocals (courtesy of Eli Wendler - Spectral Voice). The awesome growls and paranoid shrieks take the compositions to another level (listen to the ending of "Seared Eyes", which is just one example), still the album holds a lot of intensity and power from the very first moments "Charnel Rift" comes in. Everything does its part properly, from the cavernous production to the thick, powerful compositions, and it gets better and better the more you listen to it. Apart from an instrumental track in between ("Lifeless Sanctum") which is a bit repetitive, the rest of Endless Wound is on point, backed up by top-notch music and lyrics of desperation. Great work from musicians who have been very active the recent years.

Listen to Endless Wound:

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Spirit Possession - Spirit Possession


Before listening to Spirit Possession, I had the impression that I will be met with some raw black metal record of the US underground. As I completely missed their demo from the beginning of the year, the project form Oregon quickly laid in bed with Profound Lore and already has put forth their first full release, a self-titled record of thirty five minutes of length including new tracks and re-recordings of their demo tracks. I imagine it is one of the acts by Ephemeral Domignostika, a rather busy musician who has been involved in Pale Chalice and is the frontman for Ulthar, not to mention various projects he runs on his own, where in Spirit Possession he is joined by a second member named A. (Tarus, Ormus). While described as black metal, this album is a lot more inclined towards a certain guitar variety of frantic and very harsh thrash metal riffs of the old order, played in unusual rhythm sections and flirting with old school heavy and speed metal, constantly keeping the intensity levels high. 

The harsh vocals surely keep in touch with black metal as well, even though there is too much reverb used for my likings, and there are surprising noise additions in the intros of a couple of tracks ("Twin Tongued Pathways" and "Swallowing Throne"), which suggest some influential ground to the exact opposite of the traditional nature of many of the thrash riffs executed in most of the record. What Spirit Possession achieves is to combine elements that are seemingly already known in an efficient way that even makes the album feel as a breath of fresh air in an area with a strictly old school doctrine. Late 80's - early 90's black metal, from a time when it was still undefined, heavy thrash metal, keeping an eye to the future, but above all furious and energetic with a bunch of fine musical ideas. 

It would be really interesting to take a closer look to the lyrics of the album too, because they are not currently available and it's hard to decipher anything from the vocals themselves. The titles of the tracks are quite intriguing, adding just a little bit that is need to make Spirit Possession more memorable than the average out there. Produced by Colin Marston (Behold The Arctopus, Krallice, Dysrhythmia), the record might not hit stellar heights for some but gives its own interpretation of things well established. That on its own, is a feat. 

Listen to Spirit Possession:

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A Diadem of Dead Stars - ... Of Green Pastures

Things have been quiet the last few years for A Diadem of Dead Stars, the atmospheric black metal band from Volos, Greece with -from its band name- obvious influences, yet a new single was posted some days ago. The song is mostly acoustic and captures feelings of primordial Greek folk atmosphere, with echoing clean guitars and sounds of birds, building up to chanting vocals and touching flute melodies that made the track appeal to me more than much of Pilgrim's other material. Fans of pagan folk / ambient and all forest children should check ...Of Green Pastures and include it in their late night walks playlist, it won't dissappoint.


Gloosh - The River

I came across this EP from the Russian project Gloosh only to realize that they had already released a full length this year, earlier in February. Apart from the stunning artwork, the professional production of The River would easily place it among atmospheric black metal releases that would be long awaited for 2020, yet Gloosh is still relatively unknown. Can't help but think a little bit of Drudkh when listening to this, yet the project has more of its own sound and often employs lively and intriguing guitar parts, the use of ambiance and acoustics is apparent and is worth not only listening, but looking into the concepts of the releases (this one and their debut Timewheel).

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Interview with Forsmán


New blood in an all growing Icelandic black metal scene, Forsmán's debut EP release has been under work for some time and is now right around the corner. A short talk was done to get some insight on the band, who will surely draw major attention in the future, just before it opens its wings.

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Welcome, feel free to share a short bio of Forsmán to introduce yourselves.

Hello. FORSMÁN is a black metal band formed in Kópavogur, Iceland in early 2019.


What is the meaning behind your band’s name?

Forsmán is a strong word for disgrace/shame.

 

How is the composing process going for your first release? Are there any information you can say right now?

We have finished recording our debut EP, which will hopefully be out later this year or early 2021. Stephen Lockhart of Studio Emissary took care of recording, mixing and mastering.

 

You have participated in some concerts with other Icelandic bands so far. How are the relationships among young and older black metal bands within the country?

Nothing but support from the other bands in the scene. We are all good buddies and get along quite well.

 

How would you describe the music of the group to someone who has not listened to Icelandic black metal before?

Harsh riffs and melancholic melodies.

What would be some bands that directly influenced Forsmán? Do you have any non-musical influences too?

We don’t really like to go into that, as we feel the work should speak for itself.

 

As it is sometimes a common practice, are the members from Forsmán included in other projects as well?

Yes most of us are in other projects of varying genres.


Are there any bands you are collaborating at the moment, or ones who have helped you so far?

No collaborations at the moment.

 

What is the conceptual core in the lyrical subjects and themes of your tracks?

Misanthropy, religion.

 

How has the corona pandemic affected you in Iceland, in your lives and as a band, apart from live shows getting canceled? How did you get through it there and how serious was it?

It hasn’t been too bad, compared to the rest of the world at least. Iceland has quite a small population so social distancing has been fairly easy to maintain. We have mainly been using the time to finish the EP and writing new material.

 

Do you have any plans for the band in the next couple of years, assuming the global plague gets settled at some point?

Release the EP and start work on our debut full length. Then hopefully book some tours. Only time will tell.

 

Thank you for your time, the last words are yours.

Fölsk boðorð skulu lögð í glötun!

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| Find Forsmán on Instagram | 

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Baptism - Grim Arts of Melancholy


Baptism kicked back wonderfully with the release of Grim Arts of Melancholy in 2008, three years after their least appealing release, which in my opinion was 2005's Morbid Wings of Sathanas. In this album, they improved on several sections that they needed work: the compositions are much more crushing and addictive, the sound is dusty but not inaudible, the vocals are comprehensible and the body of the record is thick and solid, setting Grim Arts as a glorious representation of what Baptism can achieve musically. They don't fall into the stagnating trap of sounding like any other Finnish black metal band out there, they dance between slow, depressive melodies and faster parts with all-in-all impressive ideas and menacing riffs. The album is emotionally charged, channels its negativity and communicates the message of the band rather convincingly. Of course, Baptism went on and released more quality material the following decade (As the Darkness Enters in 2012 is still one of my favorites from the 10s era), yet this is the album to come back to when thinking of this band. Tracks like "In this Painful Life" and "Only Death" flirt with DSBM directly, the opening "A Dream of War & Illumination" is a true black metal anthem, while "Depressed Void" is one of the most memorable songs they have ever composed. Grim Arts of Melancholy is a well rounded record, emotionally charged and with strong attitude, in what could have been the peak of the band at the time.

Listen to Grim Arts of Melancholy:

Monday, 6 July 2020

The Wizard - Imperial Stout by Strange Brew / Midnight Circus / Dark Crops

On the 13th of February this year, we celebrated 50 years from the release of Black Sabbath's first and self-titled album, and also the acclaimed "birth of heavy metal". This historic anniversary was also the motive behind the collaboration between three infamous Greek microbreweries, Strange Brew, Midnight Circus and Dark Crops, to join forces in creating a beer as heavy as the magnitude of the occasion, resulting in a 9.2% American Imperial Stout named "The Wizard". As they state on the can:

"Brewed on a misty morning,
Dark, heavy and loud,
This beer tastes like
The music that we love,
For 50 years now,
And on, and on, and on..."


I will avoid getting too technical describing the intense taste of this thick, plain black stout, but below is an appropriate short playlist that almost created itself during the process of enjoying it. Of course it could have been Black Sabbath songs only, but hey:

Friday, 3 July 2020

Ondskapt - Arisen from the Ashes


Since the autumn of last year, Ondskapt were supposedly recording new material that is by now highly anticipated, as the band's next step after a whole decade since 2010's Arisen from the Ashes. While waiting for anything to appear at all, it is a good opportunity to revisit their back catalog, which consists of three brilliant albums and a fine debut EP, even though the first thing that always comes to mind when thinking of them is this release only. I still remember talking about it when it came out then with a good friend, who was also impressed and is still an admirer of passionate and well crafted Swedish blackness. Arisen from the Ashes puts forth a hefty amount of melody through its finely composed tracks, features some of Ondskapt's most memorable moments, especially in the venomous guitar lines of "Astute Spectre" or "Ominous Worship of the Divine". I slightly preferred the more agonizing sound of Dödens evangelium but Arisen from the Ashes too is well produced, with entertaining lyrics and hardly any weak points. Only "Killing the Human Mind" has grown a bit dull to me after all these years of listening, yet you are immediately rewarded with the epic self-titled track at the end. 

Listen to Arisen from the Ashes:

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Adept of an Ancient Art - Nocternity


I can’t be certain if this is the case, but I have a feeling Nocternity have always stood a bit further away from the rest of the Greek black metal scene, despite having a history of more than twenty years now and material since the late 90’s. Maybe it’s because of the fact that as a band, they don’t follow the standard recipe the country’s driven black metal style (not in music and also, not in the lyrics) that has been established since the second wave, but they drew their influences from other areas in more central and northern Europe, especially the Norwegian scene. The project is comprised mainly by Khal Drogo (who chose this nickname way before Game of Thrones came out on TV), and Merkaal, who has also been involved in Order of the Ebon Hand.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Yob - The Great Cessation


I recently went through Yob's 2014 masterpiece Clearing the Path to Ascend, several times on repeat throughout an evening while socializing with friends. In a sense, the balance in this band's body of work is unparalleled, the sound grows all around the speakers and becomes addictive to the extent you'll not notice yourself nodding after some time of listening. And while the elements employed are, to the purest, a well known combination of sludge / doom and post-metal, I can't think of many other artists that can touch the stars with flawless material, through hypnotic atmosphere and overwhelming talent. Yob's break in 2005 until 2009 feels to me -since I have no clue what actually happened to them during these years- as if this musical bull took a break only to empower and build momentum by focusing on a target, lowering its head and scratching the dust below. And that target was the whole underground scene, heck any subgenre around metal that dares to take it slow. 

The Great Cessation starts off with with one of the best tracks they have ever written, "Burning the Altar". The quintessence of crushing guitar lines, Mike Scheidt's vocal range is absolutely insane in whatever sound he chooses to make, from the screams to the growls or the cleans, it's structurally interesting and totally, totally heavy. The rest of the record doesn't stray from that path either, by going through tracks like "Silence of Heaven" or "Breathing from the Shallows" you can't help but feel the weight of the world in your shoulders, and there are no human words to describe the majesty of that 20 minute, self-titled track at the end. The 2017 reissue of the album featured a couple of more tracks, from which I particularly liked "Pain Like Sugar" for the hefty melodies, but as a whole each time I listen to this release I feel it has something more to give me. Very few records actually deserve a 10 out of 10, and in the case of Yob, it's even hard to choose which one from their discography would earn it. This is the definition of perfection.

Listen to The Great Cessation: