Album Review – Skáphe / Skáphe² (2016)

Embrace the psychotic and dissonant uproar pouring from the satanic Black Metal crafted by this implacable duo, and you’ll definitely shorten your descent to the netherworld.

Rating5

skhape2_coverBorn in 2014 as a new project from American multi-instrumentalist A.P., also known as Alex Poole (Chaos Moon, Esoterica, Krieg), and having released their self-titled debut full-length album that same year, Chaotic Black Metal band Skáphe return with their disturbing music and nightmarish vibe in Skáphe², an album that not only will keep haunting your soul just like their first installment, but that also consolidates this talented American duo as one of the most promising Black Metal acts in the world of heavy music.

The addition of Icelandic singer D.G., or Dagur (Misþyrming, Naðra), added a lot of dark power to this band from Philadelphia, located in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States, enhancing the obscurity, impact and malignancy found in their music. In other words, the macabre passages and enigmatic vociferations in Skáphe² will simply bring your deepest fears to light (or maybe I should say to darkness), a usually desired effect of Black Metal on people. Moreover, the hypnotizing artwork by Icelandic musician and artist H.V. Lyngdal, exhibiting an eviscerated devil devouring a human being, is the perfect depiction of our mental insanity and of our souls poisoned by the same fears exposed in the music by Skáphe.

Instead of regular song names, Skáphe simply numbered their creations from 1 to 6 in Roman numerals. The first track, entitled I, offers a darkling psychedelic start followed by a turmoil of dissonant growls and blast beats that will lacerate your soul, proving why they don’t label themselves “chaotic” in vain. In addition to that, D.G. provides his business card as the demonic voice of Skáphe in this bestial Black Metal chant with lots of Atmospheric Doom elements added to increase its infernal aura. II continues right where the opening track stopped, which means more satanic passages and cavernous screams with A.P. putting all his demons and anger into the music, resulting in sheer darkness. Needless to say, the anguished grasps by D.G. will make you feel very uncomfortable (in a good way, of course).

skhape_apIII, the third installment, is even sharper and more mesmerizing. It’s fast and sludgy at the same time thanks to the excellent job done by A.P. with all instruments, resulting in an ode to Black and Doom Metal represented by four minutes of despair with absolutely no hope in sight. In the Stygian tune IV, D.G. howls like a werewolf during its obscure start, and its eight minutes of extreme music are definitely not suitable at all for the faint at heart. Moreover, after an eerie break in the middle of the song, brutal Black Metal nicely explodes from all instruments for our total delight.

Obviously, the fifth chant, named V, keeps the fires of hell burning bright, showcasing a tormented performance by D.G. enhanced by the reverberating riffs and the doomed drumming by A.P. The tone of the guitar throughout the whole song is amazing, sounding like a downward spiral to Hades. And finally, the last tune VI reminds me of the most obscure songs by Triptykon at first, evolving to an extremely disturbing form of dark music. A.P. has an enraged performance, while D.G. continues his demented path to the underworld. And when the blasting Black Metal music stops, we’re treated to about two minutes of wicked background noises, meaning we’ve finally reached the gates of hell.

You can get more details on the apocalyptic loudness engendered by Skáphe at their Facebook page, and if you really want to add more affliction and pandemonium to your everyday life, you can buy a copy of Skáphe² at the band’s official BandCamp page, at the I, Voidhanger Records’s BandCamp page, at the Fallen Empire Records’ webstore (LP version) or at the Vánagandr’s Big Cartel page (cassette version). Embrace the psychotic and dissonant noises pouring from the satanic Black Metal crafted by this implacable duo, and you’ll consequently shorten your descent to the netherworld.

Best moments of the album: III and V.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 I, Voidhanger Records/Fallen Empire Records/Vánagandr

Track listing
1. I 6:32
2. II 4:40
3. III 4:11
4. IV 8:16
5. V 5:42
6. VI 6:34

Band members
D.G. (Dagur) – vocals
A.P. (Alex Poole) – all instruments

Album Review – Nachtlieder / The Female Of The Species (2015)

The Swedish Valkyrie of Black Metal returns with her aggressive night songs to tell us the spiteful story of Eve, the female of the species.

Rating5

IVR048_NACHTLIEDER_The_Female_Of_The_Species_1500pxThere couldn’t be a more suitable name than Nachtlieder for the Black Metal storm spearheaded by the skillful Swedish multi-instrumentalist Dagny Susanne. Nachtlieder is German for “night songs” or “songs of the night”, an epitome of the music found in The Female Of The Species, which is not only the brand new release by this talented Valkyrie from Gothenburg, Sweden, but also a concept album that will tell you the resentful story about Eve, the female of the species.

Unleashing her fury upon mankind since 2008, our female warrior has clearly expanded her horizons and aggressiveness from their debut album in 2013, evolving from feelings of desolation, loneliness and misanthropy to a much bolder and controversial theme. “The Garden of Eden is decaying,” she says, “and Eve’s sudden revelation of desolation and mortality has grown into spite. Stepping barefoot in the soil, she finds her path under the frozen leaves.”

In Malice, Come Closer, an incandescent Black Metal aria with hints of Atmospheric Doom, Dagny proves within less than two minutes how powerful women can sound in extreme music by offering the listener stunning sinister growls and sharp guitar riffs. And sounding even heavier and darker, Nightfall disseminates a sense of sorrow and despair that darkly reeks in the air, with lyrics that couldn’t be more Black Metal (“Stillness, sinister, crystal clear awakening / Open hands in a wordless prayer / A chilling pulse violently beating within / The silent horizon”) and a precise drumming by Martrum (by the way, drums are the only instrument not played by Dagny in the entire album).

IMG_3658-1Including elements of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom, which end up making it sound more obscure than raw Black Metal, Fatale keeps the album at a good level of quality, with highlights to its mesmerizing and diabolical riff; and if you enjoy faster and more extreme metal music, the amazing Lonely Mortal, a very well-crafted chant where Dagny shines brighter than a lonely star on a deadly winter night, will satisfy your most devilish cravings. Then, Eve gets back to a doom-ish sonority, a nefarious song with stronger keyboard notes by Dagny while the beats by Martrum get a lot more rhythmic.

You’ll need only a few seconds to know Silence And Devastation is going to be a blast of old school Black Metal from start to finish, not to mention how interesting it is to notice the way Dagny blends riffs and keyboards into one unique “entity”. Following all that heaviness we have the somber Cimmerian Child, with its grim rhythm and low-tuned riffs. Moreover, as “Cimmerian” relates to members of a mythical people who lived in perpetual mist and darkness near the land of the dead, the lyrics in this tune are spot-on to depict the result of their inbreeding (“Follow a path toward the light / Through the dense dark forest / Pretty little one / Brush the thorns from your cloak”). At long last, the album wouldn’t be complete without its title-track The Female Of The Species, closing the album in the most obscure and violent way possible. This is not only a thrilling 8-minute Black Metal opus, but also an excellent display of what our multi-instrumentalist diva of darkness is capable of and the direction her music might probably follow in her future releases.

In short, although The Female Of The Species might be considered by many as a raw Black Metal album, there’s a lot more than that offered by Nachtlieder both musically and thematically speaking. In case you want to know more about the Swedish Valkyrie of Black Metal and her distinct music, she can be reached directly via her Facebook page, and if you’re eager to relish the vindictive story told by Dagney in The Female Of The Species through her rampant and enthralling songs of the night, you can find it for sale at her official BandCamp page, as well as at the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page or official webshop.

Best moments of the album: Nightfall and Lonely Mortal.

Worst moments of the album: Fatale.

Released in 2015 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing
1. Malice, Come Closer 4:20
2. Nightfall 4:34
3. Fatale 4:14
4. Lonely Mortal 4:39
5. Eve 5:16
6. Silence And Devastation 3:58
7. Cimmerian Child 4:34
8. The Female Of The Species 8:25

Band members
Dagny Susanne – vocals, all instruments
Martrum – drums