Album Review – Rise of Avernus / Eigengrau (2018)

Blending elements from progressive and symphonic music with the most obscure side of Extreme Metal, all enfolded by majestic orchestrations, here come Rise of Avernus with their heaviest and darkest opus thus far.

Eigengrau (German: “intrinsic gray”, lit. “own gray”; pronounced [ˈʔaɪ̯gn̩ˌgʁaʊ̯]), also called Eigenlicht (Dutch and German: “own light”), dark light, or brain gray, is the uniform dark gray background that many people report seeing in the absence of light.

Since their inception in 2011, Australian Dark Orchestral Death/Doom Metal horde Rise of Avernus has been making a name for themselves throughout the metal community with their unique style blending elements from progressive and symphonic music with the darkest side of Extreme Metal, all enfolded by majestic orchestrations. Within the short time since the release of their 2012 debut EP, they’ve followed a relentless touring schedule, supporting some major international acts such as Apocalyptica, Enslaved, Eluveitie, Prong, Septicflesh, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Rotting Christ and Sigh along the way. Now in 2018 it’s time for this Sydney-based blackened squad to spread their devilish wings all over the world once again with Eigengrau, their fourth studio release and, more important than that, their heaviest and darkest opus thus far.

Featuring a Stygian artwork by world renowned artist Seth Siro Anton (aka Spiros Antoniou from Septicflesh), Eigengrau is the experience of seeing a deep grey shade in the total absence of visible light, or what one may refer to as a “perfect darkness.” Upon this canvas, an individual can project their subconscious, their processes, their anxieties and their fears. Thematically, Eigengrau explores the fluidic nature of these self-created experiences, how they can be shaped and how they may change at the point of one’s own death. Other tracks go on to explore the intricacies of personal realities, influenced by external factors or via spiritual and religious indoctrination. The nature of self-realization and being forced to confront weakness to overcome it. The distinct sound of the album reflects these altered states, oscillating between delicate movements and nightmarish grandiosity.

And Rise of Avernus’ nightmare of tenebrous and imposing sounds begin in full force in the title-track Eigengrau, showcasing a movie-inspired start before becoming a majestic fusion of the extreme music by bands like Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth and Necronomicon with a raw Death Metal twist. Furthermore, Ben VanVollenhoven, the (black) heart and soul of the band, sounds insanely infernal on vocals, as well as Andrew Craig and his thunderous drums. Following such fantastic beginning we have Ad Infinitum (or “to infinity”), a neck-breaking, symphonic tune led by the atmospheric keys by Mares Refalaeda where Ben once again brings sheer darkness to the musicality with his demonic voice, resulting in a flawless combination of Atmospheric and Symphonic Black Metal.

Then we have a movie score-inspired beginning to yet another venomous feast by Rise of Avernus titled Gehenna, showcasing a beautiful but still obscure mid-tempo rhythm led by the guitars by Ben, who also provides a powerful performance with both his harsh and clean vocals (not to mention how awesome all orchestrations are); while Eigenlicht offers the listener almost eight minutes of a descent into the pitch black crypts of Hades, presenting smooth guitar lines by Ben and the always gripping keys by Mares. In addition, the whole song ends up feeling like the second part of the title-track at times, with the atmospheric break halfway through it being a thing of beauty. To sum up, this is Symphonic Black Metal at its finest, with the whole music ending in dense and ferocious fashion for our total delectation. And there’s’ still a lot more to go in Eigengrau, with tribal beats igniting another sonic extravaganza named Tempest, where Ben sounds more hellish and cavernous than before while Andrew and Mares fill all empty spaces with their burning instruments, resulting in a flawless mix of orchestral and heavy music.

Forged in Eidolon brings forward an ominous intro rising from the pits of hell directly into your mind, with the spectral orchestrations and keyboards by both Ben and Mares imprisoning your soul in the metallic realm of evil reigned by Rise of Avernus. Then serene sounds are joined by a wave of sublime orchestrations in Mimicry, creating the perfect ambience for the demonic growls by Ben and enhanced by the astounding keys by Mares. And as the closing act to this impressive album we have Into Aetherium, a wondrous composition that starts with almost three minutes of an instrumental blast of melancholic and obscure Symphonic Black Metal before all hell breaks loose, darkening our thoughts and hearts during its eight minutes of duration. Led by the bestial drums by Andrew, this fiendish hymn sets the perfect landscape for Ben to continue his path to the underworld, gnarling like an evil entity until the song’s mesmerizing and grandiose ending.

What are you waiting for to show your support for Rise of Avernus and purchase your copy of Eigengrau, one of the best extreme albums you can find out there, blending the aggressiveness of Death, Doom and Black Metal with the finesse and epicness of orchestral music? Eigengrau is available through Rise of Avernus’ own BandCamp page or Big Cartel (where by the way you can also find an album + patch + shirt bundle and an album + patch + pin + shirt + canvas/artwork bundle), as well as through the Aural Music webstore as a regular CD format or as a very special woodbox edition, if all of those versions of the album are still in stock, of course (which I doubt due to the insanely high quality of the music in question). Also, don’t forget to pay a visit to Rise of Avernus on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the band, and to listen to more of their classy music on YouTube. This is not only the band’s boldest, darkest and heaviest release to date, as aforementioned, but a lesson in extreme music that will certainly figure among the best metal albums of 2018 not only at The Headbanging Moose, but in several other publications all over the world where dark music always prevails.

Best moments of the album: Eigengrau, Eigenlicht, Tempest and Into Aetherium.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Code666

Track listing 
1. Eigengrau 5:43
2. Ad Infinitum 4:54
3. Gehenna 5:59
4. Eigenlicht 7:33
5. Tempest 4:51
6. Forged in Eidolon 5:56
7. Mimicry 3:53
8. Into Aetherium 8:03

Band members
Ben VanVollenhoven – vocals, guitar, orchestrations
Mares Refalaeda – vocals, keyboards
Andrew Craig – drums, percussion

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Album Review – Antipope / Denial/Survival (2017)

Bending the genre boundaries and creating a unique musical journey in the spirit of classic progressive albums of the 70’s, this Finnish act returns from a four-year hiatus to offer us all their music in its most uncompromising form.

As a nice Christmas gift to all readers of The Headbanging Moose, I have for you today Denial/Survival, the fourth full-length album by Finnish Progressive Black Metal trinity Antipope, whose music is according to the band itself a free expression of whatever styles, themes or moods might be needed to relate the particular message to the listener. Although the band is considered by many as Black Metal, the name Antipope stands for liberation from any and all dogmas and renouncement of intellectual and ideological authorities, being the soundtrack for self-discovery, death and rebirth.

Formed in 2004 in the city of Oulu, the band comprised of founder Mikko Myllykangas on vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar and programming, Antti J. Karjalainen on guitars and Tuska E. on drums returns from a four-year hiatus with Denial/Survival, presenting their characteristic style of bending the genre boundaries and creating a unique musical journey in the spirit of classic progressive albums of the 70’s. Combining elements of Extreme Metal, Melodic Death Metal and even a bit of Flamenco, and featuring an imposing artwork by Finnish artist Tiina Kaakkuriniemi, Denial/Survival will offer you the music of Antipope in its most uncompromising form, and I’m sure you’ll have a good time while listening to such diverse album of extreme music.

In the opening track, titled Waters Below, we already face the multi-layered music by the trio, with an instrumental beginning that goes on for about two minutes before devastation arrives through the hellish growls by Mikko in a rhythmic and epic display of modern Black Metal; followed by Flat Circle, which presents hints of Atmospheric Black Metal infused in their more straightforward Scandinavian Extreme Metal. Moreover, Tuska does a solid job going from a more progressive style to visceral blast beats that live up to the legacy of Black Metal. And in the title-track Denial/Survival the band speeds up their pace and distills their venom through their austere words (“I woke up in the land of denial / It’s true the guilt is all you care for / Seeing you and the rest of your kind / Wallowing in self-pity and mutual rape”) in a true headbanging hymn perfect for cracking your spinal cord, which obviously translates into one of the top moments of the album.

The ominous, darkened instrumental bridge Der Sadist sets the tone for the even more obscure Black Metal chant Hunt, with the mid-tempo beats by Tuska being effectively blended with the crisp guitar lines by Antti, sounding more introspective and melancholic than the rest of the album. Then get ready to be smashed by the futuristic and melodic (but still very raw) onrush of extreme music named True Anarchist, sounding at times like Marilyn Manson, with Antti once again firing his captivating riffs, before the atmospheric and ominous creation Mindlessness Meditation brings forward cavernous bass lines by Mikko, who darkly declaims the song’s cryptic lyrics.

An Unconditional Ritual to Summon the Prince of Darkness, a slow-paced chant that could actually be used to summon an evil entity, presents words that sound and fell infernal (“This is how it begins, the last phase / A thousand step descent into the unknown / The words extend the rays of light / From the shadows a new mind”), whereas in Tragic Vision we can feel their music growing in intensity as time passes by, with Mikko and Antti making a great guitar duo by blasting some wicked riffs. Furthermore, the whole song has a touch of epicness that makes it very exciting to listen to, not to mention Tuska’s galloping beats in perfect sync with his bandmates’ stringed weapons. And as the closing song of the album Antipope deliver what is also the longest of all tunes, entitled Resolution, which could easily be used in the soundtrack for a slasher flick or a Tarantino-style movie, helping the album stand out among other extreme bands for its versatility and innovative approach.

I’m certain that, after listening to Denial/Survival, you’ll be more than curious to know more about Antipope and their distinct career, and in order to do that simply go check what Mikko & Co. are up to on Facebook, watch to their classy videos on YouTube and listen to their music on Spotify, and purchase the album through their BandCamp page or on iTunes. There’s nothing better than celebrating Christmas with some nice extreme music made in Finland, a country where Santa Claus is supposed to live (in the cold and charming Lapland, the largest and northernmost region of the country), so don’t waste your time and go show your support to this very interesting underground act. Well, if you don’t do so, I guess Santa will have to cross “somebody’s” name from his list next year.

Best moments of the album: Denial/Survival, Hunt and Tragic Vision.

Worst moments of the album: Flat Circle.

Released in 2017 Antipope/TCM Entertainment

Track listing
1. Waters Below 5:25
2. Flat Circle 5:40
3. Denial/Survival 5:06
4. Der Sadist 3:22
5. Hunt 7:08
6. True Anarchist 4:23
7. Mindlessness Meditation 4:34
8. An Unconditional Ritual to Summon the Prince of Darkness 5:29
9. Tragic Vision 4:25
10. Resolution 7:13

Band members
Mikko Myllykangas – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, programming
Antti J. Karjalainen – guitars
Tuska E. – drums

Album Review – Mavradoxa / Lethean Lament (2017)

A whirlwind of emotions from raw carnal aggression, nature reverence, despair, longing and bliss in the form of stunning Laurentian Black Metal.

“And all that we are,
all that we are,
is silhouettes
in silent
rain 

And all that we are,
all that we are,
is a blackbird
with wings
aflame”

Recorded in the spring of 2017, Lethean Lament, the second full-length installment by American Atmospheric Black Metal duo Mavradoxa, is not only a contemplative and majestic album that is expansive, atmospheric and melancholic, but it’s perhaps the best depiction in modern underground music of what’s commonly referred to as “Laurentian Black Metal”, being highly recommended for dreary and rain-soaked days during solitary walks, or in any moment of introspection. Formed in 2015 in the city of Rochester, New York, in the United States, the duo comprised of Nival (Zachary Smith) on vocals, guitar and bass and Lux (Monica Finger) on vocals and drums is sharper than ever in Lethean Lament, delivering long, progressive songs that flow with purpose where the atmosphere dictates and paints vivid stories in its movement and direction throughout the entire album, encapsulating a whirlwind of emotions from raw carnal aggression, nature reverence, despair, longing and bliss. Featuring contributions by violinist Andy McGirr on the songs “Cicadan” and “Across the Nival Grove”, and vocalist Makr Welden on the song “Crimson Waves of Autumnal Flame”, as well as a darkly distinguished and impactful artwork, Lethean Lament is honest and genuine Atmospheric Black Metal that beautifully carries on the tradition of bands like Agalloch, Waldgeflüster, Falls of Rauros and Obsidian Tongue.

In the opening track, titled Cicadan, the acoustic guitars by Nival generate the perfect atmosphere for the beyond pleasant violin by Andy to soothe our souls in a comforting and melancholic way, setting the stage for the 11-minute extravaganza The Phantom Visages, showcasing an avalanche of sluggish, somber guitars and beats by the talented duo, spiced up by harsher and more aggressive moments and also bringing elements from Black and Doom Metal, resulting in devilish Blackened Doom tailored for admirers of the genre. Furthermore, its mournful lyrics are effectively gnarled by Mavradoxa (“And soon into the graveyard’s maw the lustrous glow shall fade / Their echoing laments no longer stain the past / Their fleeting memories are borne to midnight rot / My lifeless frame upon the black tombstone is cast”), giving the entire song and even darker and more hypnotizing feel. Crimson Waves of Autumnal Flame is the absolute soundtrack for wandering through cold landscapes by yourself with its almost 18 minutes of melancholic passages, introspective clean vocals by Mark Welden, gentle but piercing guitars by Nival and steady, mesmerizing beats by Lux. The music in this underground masterpiece of winter-like sounds keeps growing in intensity inside your mind, turning it into a one-way journey into darkness.

Exploring their more progressive and atmospheric vein, Mavradoxa hone their instruments to pierce our souls with their depressive sounds in Across the Nival Grove, where vocals couldn’t sound and feel more anguished, flowing through several layers of contrasting tunes and nuances until its climatic ending led by Andy’s ethereal violin. Then we have From Fog, a magnificent composition where you can sense the night and the cold embracing the desperate vociferations blasted by the duo (“Shivering, staring at haze from breath on a shattered mirror / Streaking through shadowy groves / Skeletal roots, an edifice… / but where am I?”) in an amazing display of modern Atmospheric Black Metal. In addition, the song offers the listener old school Black Metal blast beats by Lux and a metallic riffage by Nival in perfect sync with the dense ambience surrounding the music, flirting with Progressive Black Metal and, therefore, keeping the music always fresh, vibrant and gripping. And lastly, there’s nothing better than a serene acoustic outro, named Metanoia, to wrap up this voyage through the obscure and gelid kingdom of extreme music reigned by Mavradoxa.

All you need to do to brave the storm of idiosyncratic sounds found in Lethean Lament (which by the way is our album review number 500, and there couldn’t have been a better choice to celebrate that expressive milestone than this) is go to YouTube for a full listen at the album, follow Mavradoxa on Facebook, and buy your copy of the album at the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp or webshop (as a regular CD or as a CD + shirt + sticker bundle), as well as at Discogs. And after facing such distinguished tempest of emotions, from sheer aggression to moments of hope and melancholy, you’ll certainly place Laurentian Black Metal, especially the one masterfully crafted by Mavradoxa, as one of your top choices for your most isolated and meditative moments in life.

Best moments of the album: Crimson Waves of Autumnal Flame and From Fog.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Cicadan 3:52
2. The Phantom Visages 11:25
3. Crimson Waves of Autumnal Flame 17:50
4. Across the Nival Grove 15:32
5. From Fog 11:00
6. Metanoia 1:59

Band members
Nival – vocals, guitar, bass
Lux – vocals, drums

Guest musicians
Andy McGirr – violin on “Cicadan” and “Across the Nival Grove”
Mark Welden – vocals on “Crimson Waves of Autumnal Flame”

Album Review – Lascar / Saudade (2017)

Blending modern elements of extreme music with feelings of loss, fragility and desperation, this one-man band from Chile offers us a unique interpretation of the apparent conflict on the naturalistic experience.

Hailing from the alluring city of Santiago, the capital of the mighty Republic of Chile, here comes a Post-Black Metal one-man army that goes by the name of Lascar, who since 2014 has been delivering truly captivating music by blending modern elements of extreme music with feelings of loss, fragility and desperation, offering a unique interpretation of the apparent conflict on the naturalistic experience. After the releases of the demos Lascar (2014) and Depths (2015), followed by the band’s debut full-length album Absence (2016), it’s time for Lascar, the brainchild of Chilean multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Hugo, to mesmerize us once again with beautiful Atmospheric Black Metal in the full-length opus Saudade, a Spanish word that can be translated as “yearning” or “nostalgia” (albeit there’s no specific word for it in English), implying a sense of abandon and a nostalgic mourning manifested within an artistic environment.

The opening track, entitled Tender Glow, is Atmospheric Black Metal at its finest, bringing forward a bucolic start with the sound of the guitar thoroughly blended with the wind while the music remains gloomy, desperate and anguished at all times thanks to the demonic gnarls by Gabriel, who effectively vociferates the song’s poetry-like lyrics (“The sun expands through the morning air / with its astral constant energy. / Ornaments of ice melts / through the cracks of crystal moments in an hyperbole. / A heartbeat rumble through a fragile atmosphere. / Echoes of lost dreams trespassing the ethereal. / Seasons of purple blossoms falling through the hands of time. / Ornaments of ice melts / through the cracks of crystal moments in an hyperbole.”). Thin Air continues from where the first song ended, impregnating the air with visceral blast beats, old school Black Metal riffs and tons of agony and melancholy, resulting in a wall of dark sounds built up by several distinct layers that will crush your soul mercilessly. Furthermore, Gabriel keeps growling like an uncanny entity until a gentle break brings some peace to our minds, with this paradox of negative emotions and gentle sounds being absolutely fantastic.

The third track of the album, Uneven Alignment, couldn’t start in a more melancholic manner, with its smooth sounds and nuances mesmerizing our senses before Gabriel returns with his visceral roars and frantic drums. Put differently, this is a solid and beautiful depiction of modern Black Metal with Gabriel taking us all on a whimsical journey through the obscure realms of Lascar. And lastly, the acoustic guitar by Gabriel kicks off the final breath of Post-Black Metal in Saudade, a 14-minute aria named Bereavement, showcasing all elements from Atmospheric and Depressive Black Metal fused with traditional Doom and Black Metal, with devastation and despair flowing from all instruments from start to finish, therefore ending the album on the highest note imaginable.

It’s quite difficult to express in just a few lines what the music by Lascar truly represents, which means that, if I were you, I would definitely go take a very detailed and focused listen at Saudade in its entirety on YouTube, as well as follow Lascar on Facebook. Hence, in case Saudade has all the elements you’re searching for in obscure extreme music, you can purchase a copy of the album at Lascar’s BandCamp page, at the ATMF’s BandCamp page or webstore (as a regular CD, a regular LP, or a collector’s edition translucid purple vinyl LP with white speckles), at the Throne Records’ webstore or at Discogs. The feeling of loss followed by a strong and deep sense of yearning might not be something easy to deal with inside ourselves, but with the lugubrious music by Lascar as the soundtrack at least we have a very good reason to let those feelings and thoughts consume our minds in the darkest way possible.

Best moments of the album: Thin Air and Bereavement.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 A Sad Sadness Song

Track listing
1. Tender Glow 10:25
2. Thin Air 8:49
3. Uneven Alignment 8:34
4. Bereavement 14:25

Band members
Gabriel Hugo – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Dzö-nga / The Sachem’s Tales (2017)

A demonic entity hailing from the United States gives life to the Algonquin folklore in a brand new concept album of vibrant and classy Atmospheric Black Metal.

In case you’re searching for the next name in Atmospheric and Epic Black Metal, you must take a listen at The Sachem’s Tales, the brand new concept album by an American Black Metal project that goes by the name of Dzö-nga (pronounced “zone-gah”), formed in 2016 in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, United States by multi-instrumentalist Cryvas. By the way, did you know Dzö-nga is the name of a cryptid or demon that is said to haunt the mountain Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world lying partly in Nepal and partly in Sikkim, India? Drawing inspiration from world mythologies, Dzö-nga is definitely the perfect name to represent the music by this heavy and eccentric monster of underground extreme music.

The Sachem’s Tales, Dzö-nga’s second full-length album and a concept album about the Algonquin folklore from creation mythos (“Against the Northern Wind”) to apocalyptic prophesies (“A Seventh Age of Fire”), is the project’s first release to feature Grushenka Ødegård on vocals, with Cryvas and Grushenka being joined by guest musicians Aaron Maloney (This or the Apocalypse) as their session drummer and Lilith Astaroth (Sorrowseed) lending an ethereal voice to “Halle Ravine”. Featuring a classy cover art titled “The Wendigo”, designed by British illustrator Frank Victoria, The Sachem’s Tales will certainly please all fans of the more atmospheric side of extreme music fused with folk elements, especially the ones who love the sound by bands like Agalloch, Falls of Rauros, Moonsorrow and Coldworld, among others.

Midewiwin Lodge, a serene instrumental intro led by the acoustic guitars by Cryvas and spiced up by elements from Mother Nature, sets up the ambience for the melancholic and gripping To the Great Salt Water, with the contrast between the piano and the blast beats perfectly supporting the gentle voice of Grushenka and the growls by Cryvas, enhancing the impact of its fairy tale-inspired lyrics (“What shall I tell our children? / Tell them our story / Tell them who they are / Far beyond the mountains / Where wild-men roam / Over the raging river’s foam / Follow the Whiteshell west”). Put differently, this is a beautiful rollercoaster of emotions crafted by Dzö-nga, going from deeply enraged moments to slower passages of pure tenderness. Then in The Wolves Fell Quiet what starts in a calm mode with the suave notes of the piano embracing our souls suddenly explodes into magnificent Atmospheric Black Metal, with Cryvas growling and gnarling like a hellish entity. Furthermore, multi-layered waves of blackened sounds mixed with ambient music turn listening to this tune into a distinct and dense journey through darkness.

In the acoustic ballad Halle Ravine, it’s time for Lilith Astaroth to give life to the song’s poetic lyrics, bringing hope and melancholy at the same time to our hearts, with the song’s smoother sonority also showcasing how versatile Cryvas is as a musician; followed by Against the Northern Wind, where blast beats ignite a flammable fusion of Atmospheric Black Metal with Folk and Dark Metal, once again presenting paradoxical elements that create a unique experience to the listener. Moreover, Cryvas’ demonic roars and Grushenka’s angelical voice complement each other in a superb way, making it impossible not to feel touched by all sounds blasted by the band, all reaching deep inside our hearts and souls. A Seventh Age of Fire brings forward almost 10 minutes of top-tier extreme music by Cryvas and his crew, where Aaron not only proves he’s a rabid beast behind his drums, but he also displays an extremely refined technique, therefore adding tons of intricacy to the musicality. And effectively complementing this stylish aria, Cryvas offers us all some epic church-inspired pipes, with all instruments converging to a climatic acoustic ending with the song’s lyrics yet again coming from a dark and thrilling fairy tale (“Be brave and you will be protected / Be wise and you will be rewarded / (Hear in our silence that we are at peace / Our mantle passed to you) / Light again the ancient flame / Lead our people back home”). And before all is said and done, we’re treated to the instrumental outro The Witching Meadow, a song that contains several elements found in Folk Metal, with its kick-ass piano notes generating a comforting atmosphere to end this fantastic album in great fashion.

You can enjoy this fairy tale of Extreme Metal in full on YouTube, follow Dzö-nga on Facebook, listen to their other creations on SoundCloud, and obviously purchase The Sachem’s Tales at the band’s own BandCamp page, at the Avantgard Music’s BandCamp, on Amazon or at Discogs. Having said that, let’s hope that this gargantuan, hazy creature named Dzö-nga keeps haunting not only mountain Kangchenjunga, but everywhere else in the world where high-quality metal music is appreciated for many years yet to come.

Best moments of the album: To the Great Salt Water and Against the Northern Wind.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Avantgarde Music

Track listing
1. Midewiwin Lodge (Instrumental) 2:35
2. To the Great Salt Water 8:49
3. The Wolves Fell Quiet 7:23
4. Halle Ravine (feat. Lilith Astaroth) 4:04
5. Against the Northern Wind 7:16
6. A Seventh Age of Fire 9:23
7. The Witching Meadow (Instrumental) 3:26

Band members
Cryvas – vocals, all instruments
Grushenka Ødegård – vocals

Guest musicians
Aaron Maloney – drums (session)
Lilith Astaroth – vocals on “Halle Ravine”

Album Review – Aversio Humanitatis / Longing for the Untold EP (2017)

Expanding upon their Black Metal roots by embracing the ferocity of the most mutated and cursed Death Metal, this Spanish horde brings forth a violent and ferocious one-way journey into darkness with their brand new release.

“Time is an ever open wound, that never hurts the same twice.”

Since their inception in 2010 in the city of Madrid by a core and unchanged trio of mysterious locals, Spanish Black/Death Metal horde Aversio Humanitatis (Latin for “the loathing humanity”) has been slowly morphing into a beast of implausible proportions and of ungraspable intents, as they began to expand upon their Black Metal roots by embracing the ferocity of the most mutated and cursed Death Metal. This transcendental and abhorrent metamorphosis into otherworldly sonic tyrant fully sublimated in their 2017 EP Longing for the Untold, in which Aversio Humanitatis went from being a purely methodical and vaguely technical Black Metal band in the vein of Emperor, Satyricon and Abigor, to becoming something completely undefinable, shaped by the ever so apparent lineaments of an unquenchable black hole, a beast capable of harnessing the power of collapsing stars and of the very depths of Hades.

Originally released on CD in Spain only in early 2017, Longing for the Untold is by far the boldest and most Stygian opus by this idiosyncratic Spanish entity, surpassing their 2011 debut full-length album Abandonment Ritual in terms of heaviness, obscurity, chaos and aggressiveness. Now re-packaged with three bonus tracks from their 2013 split Three Ways of Consciousness (with Venezuelan/Chilean Black Metal act Selbst and Spanish Black Metal act Nihil) and with a new incredible artwork, Longing for the Untold brings forward a colossal behemoth of technically intimidating and sonically imposing Progressive Black Metal that lunges forth toward the listener with crushing force, levitating out of solid darkness. More than just an album, Longing for the Untold represents a place and time where the power of sound literally devours the senses, turning perception into a smoldering and swarming void of sensorial awe and of transcendental sonic disintegration.

The sensational title-track Longing for the Untold presents the fury of old school Black Metal mixed with atmospheric and menacing sounds, with vocalist and bassist A.M.’s dark guttural growls being spot-on, therefore enhancing the song’s obscurity and its wicked lyrics (“Time is an ever open wound / that never hurts the same twice / Twisted shards created by our will / shall open the flesh / in ways that may be poetry, or may be mundane / Since the shadow of our self is always / longer than our height / Since the pride of our self is always / shorter than our pain”), also showcasing truly infernal blast beast by drummer J.H. Prison of Shattered Glass feels a lot more doom-ish than the opening track, with A.M. and guitarist S.D. delivering pure evil through their strings. In other words, this is a lesson in Blackened Doom by this excellent Spanish entity, where the devilish background sounds, the ominous growls by A.M. and the sluggish beats by J.H. end up generating a sulfuric and disturbing ambience altogether, ending in a beautiful, Stygian way; whereas The Ever Shifting Path gets back to a more perturbing and belligerent sonority, with the Black Metal-inspired drumming by J.H. together with the hellish vociferations by A.M. being the main elements in this fantastic Extreme Metal aria, becoming even more impactful halfway through it.

Longing for the Untold BlackSeed Productions Edition

Closing this top-tier feast of obscure and extreme music we have the eerie Advent of the Inescapable, starting with an atmospheric, creepy intro before exploding into absolute hatred in the form of Black Metal, and that perturbing feeling goes on until the music fades into sheer darkness. Moreover, pay good attention to its lyrics, which are beyond perfect for the music played (“Transcend a fraudulent reality – / let fear and pain penetrate and go through / Deconstruct your being – / resign all perishable aspirations / Dissociation from all that surrounds you – / become an impassive entity / Accept your purpose in this world – / you are here to destroy and suffer”). As aforementioned, this new version of Longing for the Untold also contains three bonus tracks, all from their 2013 split Three Ways of Consciousness (Spears of Unlight, Psalms of the Wandering and Shrine of Involution), which add a 0.5 to the album’s overall score by offering more of Aversio Humanitatis’ undisputed fusion of Atmospheric Black Metal with Doom Metal.

After paying a visit to Aversio Humanitatis’ Facebook page and YouTube channel to know more about this distinct act hailing from Spain and to get a better taste of their music, I’m sure you’ll promptly search the web for a copy of Longing for the Untold  (which by the way can be enjoyed in its entirety HERE, including all bonus tracks). Well, let me tell you that your hunt will be an extremely easy task, as the album is available for purchase at the Sentient Ruin Laboratories’ BandCamp or webstore, at the BlackSeed Productions’ webstore in black vinyl, white vinyl or cassette, on Amazon or at Discogs; as well as at the band’s own BandCamp and at the BlackSeed Productions’ BandCamp or webstore (with or without the bonus tracks). And when you finally have this fantastic album on your hands, get ready for a violent , never-ending and ferocious one-way journey into darkness.

Best moments of the album: Longing for the Untold and The Ever Shifting Path.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Sentient Ruin Laboratories

Track listing
1. Longing for the Untold 5:04
2. Prison of Shattered Glass 6:06
3. The Ever Shifting Path 5:36
4. Advent of the Inescapable 4:41

Vynil & Tape B-Side bonus tracks
5. Spears of Unlight 4:38
6. Psalms of the Wandering 5:34
7. Shrine of Involution 6:15

Band members
A.M. – vocals, bass
S.D. – guitars
J.H. – drums

Live musicians
N.H.T. – guitar, vocals
J.C. – bass

Album Review – Cult of Erinyes / Tiberivs (2017)

Inspired by the Roman Emperor Tiberius, here comes a ruthless Belgian Ritualistic Black Metal horde with their brand new and utterly fantastic concept album.

One of the most talented and prominent bands of the Extreme Metal independent scene in Europe, Belgian Ritualistic Black Metal horde Cult of Erinyes, is back with their unsparing music in the form of a concept album titled Tiberivs, inspired by the Roman Emperor Tiberius, who ruled one of the greatest empires of mankind from 14 AD to 37 AD. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newcomer to the dark world of this Brussels-based band or if you’re already a fan of works such as A Place to Call My Unknown, Blessed Extinction and their latest EP Transcendence, the music found in Tiberivs will leave scathing scars on your skin and poison your blood, leaving you eager for more of the band’s mordant creations.

As commented by the band’s mastermind Corvus, “I always perceived Cult of Erinyes as a portal that allows my mind to connect with different universes. I had, from the very beginning of the creative process, to immerse myself in a definite time period – the Ancient Roman Empire, Tiberius era. Each song, melody, and riff had to refer to a variation of emotions forgotten by time itself. What sounded like a fantastic challenge ended as a nightmare where my subconscious got lost. Desperation, frustration, and madness raised dangerously. This third album is our most progressive effort so far, but also contains radical and intense parts sublimed by Mastema’s urges for ferocity. We both went as far as we could on this album and were lucky to be helped in our task by longtime devoted musicians Algol (bass, additional guitars), Baron (lead guitars, artwork), and Déhà, who handled the drums, some guitars/keys, and the the mix/mastering process. Last but not least, Alex (Kall, Hypothermia, Craft) offered us a five-star bass-line on the intro and Marc DeBacker, my brother in Wolvennest, added some crystal-clear guitar sounds on the end of the album. This album also marked the end of my longtime musical and spiritual journey with Mastema. I can only but respect his decision and salute the energy he shared on Tiberivs. This concept album was his idea, and I’m glad we end our collaboration on this high and digressive note. He will be replaced for future live and recording duties by the most extreme and mentally extreme singer I know, Déhà, who is known for his work with Yhdarl, Maladie, We All Die (Laughing), and shitloads of other good projects. For all those reasons, I will hate and cherish this album. For Centuries To Come.”

In the opening track, titled Archaea, 41 B.C., fires burn amidst some eerie voices and moans, being slowly joined by the band’s atmospheric instrumental and topped off with a narration about how Romans were raised by wolves and that wolves are born to hunt and kill, resulting in a beyond ominous intro to the devastating Nero (Divine Providence), offering the listener the band’s old school Black Metal with their traditional ritualistic twist in the form of a sensational tempest of slashing guitars and blast beats. Moreover, not only Mastema sounds more devilish and brutal than ever, but the song’s frantic sounds are effectively blended with its ambient passages, turning it into a full-bodied blackened experience that’s definitely worth a listen. And in Casvs Belli, which means “an act or situation provoking or justifying war”, we’re treated to an explosion of extreme music with the demonic riffs by Corvus together with Algol and Baron generating a truly belligerent atmosphere, all enhanced by the infernal growls by Mastema and the obscure keys by Corvus.

Bred for War connects instantly and perfectly with the previous song to the point they can even be considered one major composition split in two, with sheer bestiality flowing from the awesome drumming by Déhà. In other words, this is straightforward Black Metal perfect for Corvus and his horde to tell the story proposed in the album; followed by Loner, a song that kicks off like a raging bull, smashing everything through the blast beats by Déhà and the fast and cutting guitars by Corvus, with Algol strengthening the song’s melody with his bass lines. The final result couldn’t sound more amazing, a furious and occult creation by Cult of Erinyes with an excellent job done by Mastema giving life to the song’s dark lyrics. Germanicvs, with its almost 8 minutes of blackened sounds and a demonic aura, keeps up with the foundations of Black Metal, being one of the most obscure and dense of all songs of the album led by the sustained drums by Déhà and spiced up by dark vociferations by Mastema.

An eerie, dark intro ignites another menacing creation by this talented Belgian horde, titled First of Men, a hybrid of Atmospheric and Ritualistic Black Metal with hints of Blackened Doom. Moreover, although it doesn’t show the same fury that emanates from the rest of the album, it’s still essential for the storyline. In Damnatio Memoriae (or “damnation of memory” in English), the music grows in intensity and darkness until after one minute it becomes a feast of Blackened Doom sounds enfolding the demented gnarls by Mastema, remaining rhythmic and dynamic thanks to the excellent job done by Déhà on drums until its thrilling Stygian ending; whereas For Centuries to Come is an 11-minute aria where Corvus showcases all his abilities as a multi-instrumentalist, while Mastema elevates his evil growls and screams to a whole new infernal level. This is by far the most complete and detailed of all songs, with its second half being a work-of-art of extreme music, not to mention its atmospheric elements beautifully complementing the piercing guitar riffs and solos, flowing into a fantastic and climatic conclusion to the album.

In a nutshell, the implacable Cult of Erinyes sounds stronger and more menacing than ever in Tiberivs (which can be enjoyed in its entirety HERE) and, despite being their ultimate album with the demonic Mastema on vocals, I’m sure the band will still provide us a lot of amazing material like this in the future. Furthermore, this brilliant concept album can be purchased at the band’s own BandCamp page, at the Caverna Abismal Records’ BandCamp or webstore, and at the Aural Music Webstore, as well as on iTunes, Amazon and Discogs. The roots to the greatest empire in the history of mankind are deeply connected to the lives of wolves, and there’s nothing better than the austere extreme music by Cult of Erinyes to show you how harsh, ruthless and vicious wolves can be.

Best moments of the album: Nero (Divine Providence), Loner and For Centuries to Come.

Worst moments of the album: First of Men.

Released in 2017 Caverna Abismal Records

Track listing
1. Archaea, 41 B.C. 2:40
2. Nero (Divine Providence) 7:42
3. Casvs Belli 6:24
4. Bred for War 3:52
5. Loner 4:27
6. Germanicvs 7:40
7. First of Men 5:49
8. Damnatio Memoriae 6:04
9. For Centuries to Come 10:59

Band members
Mastema – vocals
Corvus – lead and rhythm guitar, bass, keyboards
Algol – bass, rhythm guitar
Baron – lead guitar
Déhà – drums, additional guitar & keyboards

Guest musicians
Alex – bass on “Archaea, 41 B.C.”
Marc DeBacker – additional guitar on “For Centuries to Come”

Album Review – Katharos XIII / Negativity (2017)

After the 56 minutes of intense and pensive Depressive Suicidal Black Metal thoroughly crafted by this Romanian quartet reach deep into your soul, you’ll never be the same again.

Born in 2007 in the city of Timișoara, the main social, economic and cultural centre in western Romania located around 550km northwest of the capital Bucharest, and functioned in the early days as a one-man band until de beginning of the recordings of the demo Silver Melancholy in late 2008, self-released in 2009, Depressive Suicidal Black Metal act Katharos XIII return after their 2011 debut Dead Emotions with their second full-length installment, titled Negativity, comprised of seven tracks emerged from the dark chambers of human psyche, questions and deep melancholy into black chords, a truly unique combination of different layers and influences.

Featuring a somber artwork by Romanian artist Alexandru Das (Argus Megere, North, Ordinul Negru), Negativity offers the listener an amalgamation of personal experiences (all kinds of abuse, paranoia, severe depressions), strange stories, movies (Greenaway, Lynch) and books (Eliade, Cioran, Zola), all thoroughly put together by the talented F on vocals, guitars and keyboards, Andrei on guitars, SQ on bass and Sabbat on drums, resulting in a unique experience of extreme music for admirers of the genre. And if you feel your heart got darker after listening to the album’s 56 minutes of intense and pensive Black Metal, that means Katharos XIII succeeded in sending you the desired message through their disturbing music.

Opening the album on a high note we have XIII, a modern approach to Black Metal sounding very melodic and epic thanks to the excellent guitars by F and Andrei, with the devilish gnarls by F bringing more obscurity to the overall result. Moreover, its riffs get to a very traditional mode halfway through it, while the song’s atmosphere keeps growing in intensity and mystery, flowing to an ominous ending led by the demonic vociferations by F. Slightly different than its predecessor, the title-track Negativity goes full Black Metal, overflowing blast beats, flammable riffs and infernal growls, also presenting elements from Atmospheric Black Metal and Doom Metal, not to mention its disturbing lyrics (“Burn in the kingdom of the blind / A garden that cannot be seen / By the ones who ignore the creation / The path of the eternal self-torment”) and its beyond somber break.

The steady beats by Sabbat together with the darkened keys by F create a truly somber ambience in No One Left to Lead the Way, a perfect fusion of Black Metal with Blackened Doom supported by a strong harmonious background, flowing into a smooth but very obscure ending; followed by The Chains are so Beautiful, where a melancholic and grim beginning led by Sabbat with his sluggish beats and bassist SQ with his low-tuned roars gradually leans towards old school Doom Metal, supporting the very macabre spoken words by F (“I will tell you a story / Stories as we all like to hear / The amphetamine has won the game / Enslaving the pain inside soul / Close your eyes and sleep tight / While the angels watch you closely / Nothing bad to happen to you / Only to fall into their arms”), before exploding into visceral and deranged Black Metal until its introspective finale.

Spearheaded by the piercing riffs by Andrei, World’s Coffin sounds like a blackened waltz, with F grasping his words bestially, blending old school Black Metal with contemporary Symphonic Black Metal the likes of Dimmu Borgir. Furthermore, the bass by SQ keeps rumbling in a demonic way in the background, topped with a soulful solo by Andrei. I Die Everytime I Walk This Path brings forward a serene and contemplative intro, generating a comforting but at the same time perturbing ambience where F instead of growling simply grasps in a vile manner. Not only that, tempestuous moments are thoroughly inserted in this Blackened Doom aria, with the beautiful work done by Andrei and SQ with their strings taking you to a dark dimension ruled by Katharos XIII. Lastly, closing this amazing album of extreme music the band offers a darkened assault titled Inside, with Sabbat pounding his drums vigorously while Andrei blasts straightforward demonic riffs, reaching an epic and reverberating stage before the song’s climatic and violent conclusion.

In other words, are you prepared to have your mortal soul embraced in the endless darkness crafted by Katharos XIII? If you can’t wait for that to happen, then you should definitely visit Katharos XIII on Facebook to know more about this distinct Romanian band, and purchase your copy of Negativity through the Loud Rage Music’s BandCamp or webshop, as well as at Discogs. As mentioned before, after listening to Negativity, you’ll never be the same again, and all you’ll have to do is to thank this amazing Romanian quartet for such unique experience of dark and mournful sounds.

Best moments of the album: XIII, Negativity and World’s Coffin.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Loud Rage Music

Track listing
1. XIII 9:50
2. Negativity 6:13
3. No One Left to Lead the Way 6:24
4. The Chains are so Beautiful 8:21
5. World’s Coffin 5:58
6. I Die Everytime I Walk This Path 12:03
7. Inside 7:16

Band members
F – vocals, guitars, keyboards
Andrei – guitars
SQ – bass
Sabbat – drums

Album Review – Ghost Horizon / The Erotics of Disgust EP (2017)

Four distinct compositions that will pierce into your mind and soul in a beautiful way, brought forth by a musician that definitely knows how to transform his deepest feelings into great music.

If you’re an admirer of the most obscure and melancholic forms of Melodic and Atmospheric Black Metal, I have some very good news for you. Critically acclaimed Post-Black Metal act Ghost Horizon is back with a brand new EP, titled The Erotics of Disgust, a follow-up (but with a considerably different sounding) to the band’s previous EP Astral Possessions, released in 2016.  This time around, this Phoenix-based project consists of founder Dan Stollings on vocals and all stringed instruments, and newcomer “Frog” Magus (Norse) on drums, who together brought into being four distinct compositions that will pierce into your soul and crush your feelings in a beautiful way.

Dan commented that the EP “has been waiting in the darkness for quite a while now – it’s been completed for months. It’s been hard to let this EP into the world, because in a lot of ways, I’m sharing some pretty deep emotions that I would never talk about otherwise. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs in the process of its creation, and I think that’s reflected pretty heavily in the music. The decision to do the vocals myself was also a part of this realization that in order to portray exactly what I’m thinking, I need to use my own voice. Nothing on this album is perfect. I didn’t want it to be perfect. At first I went into writing with the mentality that this will be the best produced thing I’ve ever done, but after finishing the vocals, I realized this thing needs to be raw. And so it was.” After reading such powerful words by Dan, I’m sure you’re more than curious to listen to The Erotics of Disgust, but once again let me warn you that the music might be too dark for the average listener.

Radiant Eyes presents an introspective beginning for this new phase of Ghost Horizon, gradually morphing into a dark amalgamation of Blackened Doom and Post-Black Metal with hints of progressiveness enhancing the song’s depressive sonority. Moreover, “Frog” Magus does an amazing job on drums, maintaining the song’s dense rhythm flowing smoothly. In So Hollow, not only Dan surprises us with his clean vocals supported by a gentle ambience, but the song’s lyrics also prove that he’s definitely a skillful poet of darkness (“You can take it all / Everything we know / You can break it all / You chose a path I cannot follow / You left a heart in me so hollow / Changing skies above / Breaking hearts below / On again / True love / Off again / Bruised love”). This is modern and gripping Atmospheric Black Metal that brings at the same time peace and hopelessness to our hearts, making us eager for more of the music by Ghost Horizon.

Following a similar pattern to the previous song, This Forever Flow also presents delicate guitars and bass lines together with the Doom Metal-inspired beats by “Frog”, with its last piece getting heavier due to the harsh growls by Dan without losing its core subtlety. Besides, how not to get touched by its profound lyrics (“Fading from my heart is the will to be one / Fear in my words – last words to my love / Fire fading quickly, your lips have left me cold / The ending of a romance with the ending left untold”)? Lastly, featuring guitarist and composer Tyler Allen on guest vocals, Ghost Horizon deliver a full-bodied darkened composition bursting with anguish, despair and melancholy entitled Whispers, with its Black Metal riffs and blast beats bringing an extra dosage of obscurity to the overall musicality. In my humble opinion, it’s the best and most complete of the four songs of the EP, the type of music I would like to see Dan explore even more with his future releases.

In summary, although many people have a lot of difficulties to talk about their deepest feelings, it seems that Dan has simply mastered how to express his own feelings through the music by Ghost Horizon. However, you have to be very open-minded and absorb each second of The Erotics of Disgust in order to fully understand the whole message delivered by Dan this time, letting your mind and soul minutely merge with the music found on this fine album. And you can always get to know Ghost Horizon in more detail through their Facebook page and listen to their music on Spotify, as well as purchase your copy of The Erotics of Disgust on BandCamp, at the Tridroid Records’ webshop, on Cd Baby, on Amazon or on iTunes. The Erotics of Disgust is certainly not Dan’s last stint with his Ghost Horizon, which means there’s still a lot to come from such distinct act, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Best moments of the album: Whispers.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Radiant Eyes 4:11
2. So Hollow 4:05
3. This Forever Flow 5:01
4. Whispers 4:34

Band members
Dan Stollings – all stringed instruments, vocals
“Frog” Magus – drums

Guest musician
Tyler Allen – additional vocals on “Whispers”

Album Review – Loathfinder / The Great Tired Ones EP (2017)

A newborn Blackened Doom entity hailing from Poland will bring endless obscurity, fearfulness and anguish to your mind and soul with their menacing 28-minute debut opus.

We might not have the slightest idea of who they really are, but we know without a shadow of a doubt that their spine-chilling, perverse Blackened Doom lives up to the legacy of bands such as Forgotten Tomb, Woods of Ypres and the early days of Katatonia, also presenting an ominous vein inspired by the most funereal form of Atmospheric Black Metal. I’m talking about a newborn evil entity known as Loathfinder, who have just released their debut EP titled The Great Tired Ones, a 28-minute opus that, above all things, will bring endless obscurity, fearfulness and anguish to your mind and soul.

Founded somewhere back in time in the imposing city of Cracow, one of the most fertile cities not only in Poland but in the entire Europe in regards to arts and music, Loathfinder are a remorseless spawner of the most obscure elements found in Extreme Metal, with The Great Tired Ones being the amalgamation of all their evil. Displaying a visceral artwork by Polish illustrator Robert A. von Ritter (Diabolizer, Armagh, Ragehammer), with the design and colors originated by Polish illustrator and graphic designer Maciej Kamuda (HerezA, Misanthropic Rage, Virgin Snatch), this is an album that will certainly be part of your personal playlist for a long time if you love the rotten and grim sounds of old school Blackened Doom piercing your ears.

Flies buzzing and thunderous bass and guitar lines ignite the damned feast named Genetic Gloom, with the cavernous growls coming from an unknown creature impregnating the musicality through and through. Furthermore, a few moments of tranquility are meticulously inserted amidst the ominous Blackened Doom that reeks in the air, with steady beats dictating the song’s lugubrious rhythm. Darker and more aggressive due to its infernal gnarls and deep guttural growls, Feast on My Entrails presents lyrics that couldn’t be more putrescent (“My cradle is rotten / Black fingers ream my ribs from inside / As I gaze into sky with learned apathy / And miss places I’ve never been / When venom is dripping from every wall / Only thing you can do is spit, spit and spit”), which together with its mesmerizing riffs and rumbling ambience (led by the song’s Stygian bass lines) turn it into a macabre hymn of darkness.

Metallic and lancinating bass sounds kick off another vile creation by Loathfinder, the excellent Scents of Regression, bringing forward putrid growls and doomed beats in total sync, increasing the song’s obscurity even more. Not only that, this song also offers the listener a solid Doom Metal sonority with the band’s blackened vein pulsing inside it, enhanced by sharp guitar solos and riffs. And lastly we have the title-track The Great Tired Ones, where a truly macabre intro goes on for about a minute until all instruments rise from the pits of hell, also displaying acid lyrics perfect for the music played (“Through the black eyes / Of agonized priestess / We were allowed to see / The gathering / Of faceless / Of whipped / And lost in time / The Great Tired Ones / Black chain of greatest lies / The Great Tired Ones / One were all, all were One”). If you love Blackened Doom, get ready for almost ten minutes of mournful passages, cutting guitars and desperate growls, ending with rancid gnarls that will darken your mind instantly.

You can savor the 28 minutes of hatred and anguish found in The Great Tired Ones by clicking HERE, and also grab your copy of this devilish album at Loathfinder’s BandCamp, at the Godz ov War Productions’ BandCamp, or at Discogs. This is a beyond solid debut album by Loathfinder, with no fillers, no artificial sounds and no happy feelings, but only the deepest rooted form of our good old Blackened Doom, and if those enigmatic musicians were capable of delivering such high-quality music with their very first release, I’m sure Blackened Doom will remain strong and menacing for years with Loathfinder being one of the new remarkable names of the genre.

Best moments of the album: Feast on My Entrails.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Godz ov War Productions

Track listing
1. Genetic Gloom 6:08
2. Feast on My Entrails 6:50
3. Scents of Regression 5:25
4. The Great Tired Ones 9:37

Band members
*Information not available*