Album Review – Depths Above / Ex Nihilo (2018)

Crafting Black and Doom Metal “out of nothing”, this Brno-based band is here to introduce us all to their gloomy vision of underground metal with their debut album.

Ex nihilo is a Latin phrase meaning “out of nothing”, often appearing in conjunction with the concept of creation, as in creatio ex nihilo, meaning “creation out of nothing”, chiefly in philosophical or theological contexts, but also occurring in other fields. It’s with that concept in mind that Depths Above, a Czech Black/Doom Metal band formed in 2015 in the city of Brno by current and former members of the bands Bhagavat (Italy), Desert Witch (Slovakia) and Inferno (Czech Republic), are releasing their debut installment, the 32-minute 4-track album Ex Nihilo, introducing us all to their gloomy vision of underground metal in which genres like Black, Death and Doom Metal mix in various dosages and moods. The wicked album artwork, created by the band’s own vocalist and guitarist Vama Marga, is a very good indication of what to expect from Vama together with guitarist Dreamancer, bassist Ivan Teleranko Dvorsky and drummer Sarapis, but it’s when you hit play that you’ll actually be able to feel all the madness and fury flowing from their distinguished music.

Ominous and cavernous sounds ignite the Black and Doom Metal aria Here and Everywhere, morphing into a gargantuan feast of extreme sounds led by Sarapis’ frantic drums and Vama’s and Dreamancer’s choleric riffs, before Vama begins growling like a demonic entity. And the music remains menacing and austere until its Stygian finale, being flawlessly followed by the flammable The Descent, where Ivan and Sarapis make the ground rumble with their thunderous instruments, being perfect for breaking your neck headbanging. Furthermore, the music gets more atmospheric and eccentric as time goes by, also showcasing a beautiful and impactful work done by the band’s devilish guitar duo.

Almost tribal, but always hypnotizing and obscure, A Prayer presents Vama, Dreamancer and Ivan complementing Sarapis’ nocturnal beats flawlessly with their piercing and dense strings in an instrumental extravaganza of Blackened Doom and classic Doom Metal, infused with elements from Progressive Metal the likes of Tool and Mastodon; whereas the title-track Ex Nihilo closes the album as demented and vibrant as the other songs in the form of a massive wall of darkened sounds spearheaded by Vama and his enraged roars. Moreover, it’s by far the most Black Metal of all songs, spiced up by the utter melancholy and anguish of Doom Metal, without a single space being left empty, invading your ears mercilessly and therefore closing the album on a high, cryptic and malevolent note.

You can get in touch with the talented Vama and his henchmen through their Facebook page, and grab your copy of Ex Nihilo exclusively from their BandCamp page. As aforementioned, Ex nihilo means “creation out of nothing”, and Depths Above explored that concept to perfection when creating the music found in their new album, showing the world the band is here to stay, proudly carrying the flag of Black and Doom Metal as high as the sun, but of course with their hearts and minds being as blackened as extreme music demands.

Best moments of the album: The Descent and Ex Nihilo.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Here and Everywhere 7:30
2. The Descent 7:04
3. A Prayer (Instrumental) 7:31
4. Ex Nihilo 9:04

Band members
Vama Marga – vocals, guitars
Dreamancer – guitars
Ivan Teleranko Dvorsky – bass
Sarapis – drums

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Album Review – Soul Dissolution / Nowhere EP (2018)

This unstoppable Belgian duo returns with a brand new EP only six months after their latest full-length album, offering the listener 24 minutes of classy extreme music rooted more firmly in the Post-Black territory.

Formed in December 2012 in the city of Brussels, Belgium mostly influenced by bands such as Agalloch, Drudkh, Alcest and the early days of Katatonia, the talented Atmospheric Black Metal duo that goes by the name of Soul Dissolution returns only six months after their critically-acclaimed opus Stardust with a brand new 2-track EP simply titled Nowhere, offering the listener 24 minutes of classy extreme music rooted more firmly in the Post-Black territory, drawing additional inspiration from bands like Harakiri For The Sky, Heretoir and Anomalie while still retaining the core atmosphere, dynamics and melodies from their previous material.

Comprised of Acharan on lead vocals and Jabawock on guitars, bass and additional vocals, Soul Dissolution are one of those underground acts that are not afraid of experimenting with different sounds and nuances, but always true to their origins, and that’s perhaps what makes Nowhere so compelling and vibrant form start to finish. Featuring a grim cover picture taken by Jabawock on a misty morning in the Vosges region in France, and presenting Celestial as their session drummer for the first time (in addition to him being a part of the band’s live lineup), Nowhere will take you on a journey full of epicness and melancholy, all enhanced by the album’s crystal clear overall production, paving an exciting path for Soul Dissolution to keep mesmerizing us all with their music in a not-so-distant future.

Melancholic guitar lines kick off the first of their two “musical voyages”, entitled Road to Nowhere, a lecture in Atmospheric Black Metal where the beats by Celestial are at the same time fierce and delicate while Jabawock slashes his guitar strings majestically, piercing our ears and minds with his whimsical riffs and solos. Furthermore, all elements from Melodic Black Metal found in the musicality bring an extra taste to their core Atmospheric Black Metal, majestically flowing like a wild river, not to mention the song’s captivating lyrics growled by Acharan in a truly anguished manner (“Under the moonlit sky/ Winds carry new words / For songs yet to come to life / Under the moonlit sky / Winds carry my steps / Pushing me forward on my road to nowhere”). Then even more obscure than its predecessor, Fading Darkness presents hints of Blackened Doom and Doom Metal in its core sound, with Soul Dissolution mesmerizing our senses with their deep gnarls, solid string work and precise drumming, bulding the perfect ambience for the poetry flowing from the song’s introspective words (“These thick, black woods / With trails long overgrown / This journey I started many years ago / The last time I saw the sun / This mountain on which I roam / Constantly surrounded by thick fog / Its sinister presence all around / Drains all life therein to be found”).

The full EP is available for a detailed listen on YouTube, and you can show your true support to Soul Dissolution by following them on Facebook, by listening to their music on Spotify, as of course by purchasing Nowhere from their own BandCamp page, from the GS Productions’ BandCamp or webstore, from iTunes or from Discogs. If the music found in Nowhere points to what we can expect from Soul Dissolution in their future releases no one knows for sure, as Acharan and Jabawock love to explore new grounds and nuances, but if there’s one thing we can be certain about is that the duo will keep delivering first-class atmospheric music for our total delight in the coming years, always surprising us in a very positive way and always loyal to their foundations.

Best moments of the album: Road to Nowhere.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 GS Productions

Track listing
1. Road to Nowhere 11:54
2. Fading Darkness 12:25

Band members
Acharan – lead vocals
Jabawock – guitars, bass, additional vocals

Guest musician
Celestial – drums (session)

Album Review – Tyrannic / Ethereal Sepulchre (2018)

A dark beast of doom in the form of an uncompromising album of true and raw heavy music, courtesy of a trinity whose veins pump with the pulse of Black, Thrash and Doom Metal.

Formed in 2010 under the antipodean sky of Sydney, Australia, the ruthless Thrash/Doom Metal entity known as Tyrannic has been paving their own twisted path with a dark and sinister mindset since their inception, and despite several lineup changes over the years the band’s founding member R has constantly driven the band forward from behind the kit with his signature vocal style and dedication to the “do-it-yourself” principles and aesthetic of the underground. After releasing a couple of demos, a split album and a live tape through the years, it’s time for Tyrannic to unleash their dark beast of doom with their honest and uncompromising debut album titled Ethereal Sepulchre, crafted with a very personal approach to carving its own unique and disgusting mould.

Featuring four long tracks of heinous, horrific and bizarre sounds, the most primitive rumblings straight from the beast’s belly, Ethereal Sepulchre offers the listener unadulterated metal from a trinity whose veins pump with the pulse of Heavy Metal. Furthermore, R describes the album as a release which “projects complete darkness in the most obscure form”, with its lyrical content being an expression of his innermost exploration into abstract thought, madness and insanity, all driven by experiential death worship. In other words, if you’re a fan of the obscure music by iconic bands from distinct genres but with the same appreciation for the dark, like Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost, Emperor and Dark Funeral, among several others, get ready for a visceral and thunderous descent into the pits of hell with Tyrannic.

The first track of the album, a demonic welcome card by the trio entitled Serpent Scythe, brings forward classic, old school Black Metal from the very first second spiced up by hints of the Doom Metal played by Black Sabbath, with R’s growls being a demonic fusion of the vocals by Tom Araya (Slayer) and Mortuus (Marduk), while Morgan and J slash their strings in a hellish manner. And Tyrannic’s evil triumvirate keeps delivering darkness and dementia through their instruments in the sluggish and medieval Possession of Accursed Inheritance, offering over 12 minutes of obscurity in the form of Black Metal infused with Blackened Doom nuances. Moreover, R gets more and more deranged on vocals while his beats exhale madness and aggressiveness, until the band’s sonic onslaught of Stygian sounds ends with the creepy sound of a mysterious organ.

In the following tune, named Tyrannic Deluge, what starts in a somber Doom Metal-inspired manner suddenly explodes into flammable Black Metal from the netherworld, with J firing scorching hot riffs form his guitar. This can be considered the most complete and electrifying of all four tracks, remaining pulverizing throughout its 14 devilish minutes, flowing like an ardent blaze through the forest until its Funeral Doom-inspired grand finale. And R, J and Morgan unite their darkened forces once again for one final blast of hellish Black Metal in the title-track Ethereal Sepulchre, delivering blasphemous vociferations, somber riffs and bass punches, and pounding beats, evolving into a menacing hybrid between old school Black Metal and low-tuned, demonic Doom Metal that remains utterly disturbing and vile for our total delight.

In summary, if you are one of those metalheads who simply love to have your soul darkened by the damned sounds blasted by bands from the underworld of heavy music, then Ethereal Sepulchre should definitely become part of your devilish collection. Hence, in order to put your hands on such sulfurous album, simply go to the Séance Records’ BandCamp or webstore (where you’ll find it in CD or in an old school, primeval tape format), as well as Discogs, to purchase your copy of it. And last but not least, don’t forget to show your support to such demented power trio by following them on Facebook, joining R, J and Morgan in their sonic crusade in the name of raw and aggressive Black, Thrash and Doom Metal.

Best moments of the album: Tyrannic Deluge.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Séance Records

Track listing
1. Serpent Scythe 6:07
2. Possession of Accursed Inheritance 12:13
3. Tyrannic Deluge 14:05
4. Ethereal Sepulchre 7:00

Band members
R – vocals, drums
J – guitars
Morgan – bass

Album Review – Barkasth / Decaying (2018)

A new formation on the landscape of the Ukrainian Black Metal scene reveals the dark side of idolatry on human life and demonstrates the result of this pernicious influence in their debut full-length opus.

It’s time to get devilish, heavy and blasphemous with the interesting fusion of classic Black Metal with Melodic Black Metal and Blackened Doom blasted by a four-piece act hailing from Ukraine comprised of Arkhonth on guitars and vocals, Goreon also on guitars and vocals, Hagalth on bass and Malet on drums, collectively known as Barkasth. Formed in 2015 in Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine located in the northeast part of the country, Barkasth are spreading darkness not only in their homeland but everywhere else in the world with their debut full-length album, simply titled Decaying.

A new formation on the landscape of the Ukrainian Black Metal scene, Barkasth’s source of inspiration is a radically negative attitude towards religion, in any of its manifestations, as the main cause of obscurantism and distorted perception of reality – the main indicator for the level of ignorance of a contemporary man. Throughout the seven unrelenting tracks in Decaying, this Stygian horde reveals the dark side of idolatry on human life and demonstrates the result of this pernicious influence. In other words, the music by Barkasth presents no artificial elements nor any other type of shenanigans added to it, going straight to the point and showing the world Black Metal is still one of the most effective weapons against all forms of religion.

And the opening track Begging By Freaks comes crushing with a classic and epic beginning that beautifully evolves into a mid-tempo, blackened sonority where harsh and demonic growls are supported by the scorching riffs by  Arkhonth and Goreon. Put differently, this is a sulfurous and austere display of Melodic Black Metal infused with elements from Blackened Doom and traditional Doom Metal that will please all fans of the genre, whereas an even darker atmosphere serves as the background for the hellish Alone, with Malet delivering rhythmic but at the same time fierce beats while the harsh vocals by Arkhonth exhale blasphemy and hatred, all enfolded by a mesmerizing vibe. And in Blood & Flesh the band accelerates their pace, therefore reaching a more traditional Black Metal sonority with Malet delivering sheer darkness through his blast beast while Arkhonth growls like a true Black Metal veteran, turning it into one of the top moments of the album without any doubt, also showcasing cutting riffs that will pierce through your ears in a violent manner.

Soul Away gets back to a more introspective and obscure hybrid of Black Metal and Blackened Doom, with Arkhonth and Goreon, together with bassist Hagalth, shredding their strings mercilessly, while all the growling and roaring gets as deep, reverberating and demonic as possible; but it’s when they focus on their darkest and most aggressive Black Metal side that they truly thrive, and the title-track Decaying is the perfect depiction of that, with the entire band sounding flammable and infernal, in special Malet with his always demolishing and melodic beats. Then their disturbing and demonic vein arises once again in the visceral hymn Shepherd, with the sound of guitars penetrating deep inside your flesh amidst a feast of desperate and deep roars, not to mention how vile the whole ambience feels. Lastly, as the icing on the cake we have another cryptic, low-tuned aria of darkness entitled …Where Was The Son Of God, where the Doom Metal-inspired beats by Malet are flawlessly complemented by the guitar duo’s anguished lines, resulting in a captivating and very harmonious ending to the album.

Decaying, which is available for a full (and darkened) listen on YouTube and for purchase from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Svarga Music mailorder, might be far from being a masterpiece or a reference in Black Metal, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an extremely well-crafted and solid album by this hardworking quartet, positioning Barkasth as one of the most promising new acts from the Ukrainian scene and definitely a band to keep an eye on in the coming years. Especially if, just like Barkasth’s band members, you also believe religion is one of the main factors in the imminent and inevitable downfall of our rotten society.

Best moments of the album: Blood & Flesh and Decaying.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Svarga Music

Track listing
1. Begging By Freaks 6:15
2. Alone 7:16
3. Blood & Flesh 5:53
4. Soul Away 5:17
5. Decaying 5:08
6. Shepherd 6:02
7. …Where Was The Son Of God 6:36

Band members
Arkhonth – guitars, vocals
Goreon – guitars, vocals
Hagalth – bass
Malet – drums

Album Review – Pantheist / Seeking Infinity (2018)

After almost a decade, this London-based Funeral Doom institution returns to their musical roots with a 60-minute cinematic journey through obscure and atmospheric landscapes.

A pantheist is someone who believes that God and the universe are the same, or in other words, that “All Is God”, as pantheism literally means “God Is All” (pan means all and Theos means God when translated from Greek). Brought to life in the year 2000 in Antwerp, Belgium by vocalist and keyboardist Kostas Panagiotou, but currently based in London, England, the dark and vile Progressive/Funeral Doom Metal entity known as Pantheist, one of the standard bearers of the Funeral Doom sound, is among us to prove that “All is Doom” with their brand new opus entitled Seeking Infinity, their fifth full-length album and their first release in seven years. Seeking Infinity is a 60-minute cinematic journey through Funeral Doom landscapes, a decisive return to Pantheist’s musical roots whilst still incorporating the atmospheric and progressive elements that have become an integral part of their sound over the years.

The long journey leading to the creation of this album started all the way back in the summer of 2012, when Kostas announced to his then band members an outline for a new concept album. A lot of things have changed since then and the concept and sound have evolved dramatically until the creation of the album; however, despite the changes, the philosophy behind this concept album and its singular purpose have remained intact. Recorded, mixed and engineered by drummer Daniel “Dan” Neagoe (Shape of Despair, Clouds) and enhanced with the enchanting artwork of the band’s visual artist Cheryl, the album sounds and looks both modern and familiar, surely to fill with nostalgia fans of old-school traditional Funeral Doom/Death Metal, while also drawing to its mystical sound new followers for the years to come.

An ominous intro named Eye of the Universe keeps growing in intensity, with an eerie and somber narration setting the stage for the sluggish, obscure and visceral Control and Fire, a lesson in Funeral Doom with Kostas sounding demonic with both his deep growls and his phantasmagorical keys, while Dan keeps the rhythm as lugubrious as it can be with his slow and potent beats, being effectively supported by Frank Allain and his slashing riffs, with the music flowing darkly and smoothly until 500 B.C. to 30 A.D.- The Enlightened Ones comes crushing with its beyond atmospheric start on the piano, complemented by its cryptic words darkly declaimed by Kostas (“You can run, but you can’t hide from the quiet flow of time / the dark tentacles of fate push you towards your destiny / and when you think you are free to live your life as you please / you’ll find you’re nothing but a pawn of history / There is a fire, a desire in my head / eat my battered body, drink my wasted blood / and tell me endless tales of who I am: / the man who feels inside him that change has come”). Put differently, this is a funeral march of metal music tailored for admirers of the genre, with its second half getting creepy and enigmatic, beautifully exploding into classy Blackened Doom.

Amidst obscure background elements and nuances, the acoustic guitar by guest Pete Benjamin (Voices, Akercocke) kicks off another multi-layered feast of Doom Metal by Pantheist titled 1453: an Empire Crumbles, also showcasing the deep Gregorian chant-inspired vocals by the other guest Andy Koski-Semmens (Syven, Pantheist), offering the listener six minutes of what can be called a Stygian and mesmerizing mass. Then the serene keys by Kostas are the main ingredient in the also slow and dense Emergence, with the low-tuned bass lines by Alexsej creating a menacing ambience in paradox with the delicacy of the piano notes. In other words, Pantheist will crush your senses mercilessly throughout the entire song in the perfect depiction of how visceral and vibrant Doom Metal can be. And lastly we have Seeking Infinity, Reaching Eternity, another deep and full-bodied display of Funeral Doom led by Kostas’ anguished roars and church-like keys, giving life to the song’s imposing, poetic lyrics (“I hear the sound of horns, I see a beast appearing from the sea / it has ten horns and seven heads / looks like a lion, like a leopard it crawls / I stretch out my shaking hand / and touch the body of the dancing Shiva / I want to scream, but I can’t / instead I cry, shake and shiver”), with Dan pounding his drums in perfect sync with Frank’s harmonious and fierce riffs and, therefore, keeping the atmosphere vibrant and thunderous until its climatic finale.

Pantheist are a Funeral Doom institution that’s certainly worth a shot, no doubt about that, and the extremely high quality of the music found in Seeking Infinity is a solid statement that this very talented band is here to stay, living up to the legacy of all classic and old school Doom Metal, Funeral Doom and Blackened Doom bands from all over the world. Having said that, I highly recommend you follow the band on Facebook and subscribe to their YouTube channel for more details about them and to enjoy more of their music. And, of course, purchase your copy of Seeking Infinity from their own BandCamp or webstore, from The Vynil Division’s BandCamp or webstore, from iTunes or from Discogs, and may the somber and lugubrious sounds and tones blasted by Pantheist permeate your thoughts whenever you visit the darkest corners of your mind.

Best moments of the album: 500 B.C. to 30 A.D.- The Enlightened Ones and Emergence.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Melancholic Realm Productions

Track listing
1. Eye of the Universe 1:59
2. Control and Fire 11:45
3. 500 B.C. to 30 A.D.- The Enlightened Ones 13:13
4. 1453: an Empire Crumbles 6:04
5. Emergence 12:17
6. Seeking Infinity, Reaching Eternity 14:39

Band members
Kostas Panagiotou – vocals, keyboards
Frank Allain – guitars
Aleksej Obradović – bass
Daniel “Dan” Neagoe – drums

Guest musicians
Pete Benjamin – acoustic guitar on “1453: an Empire Crumbles”
Andy Koski-Semmens – vocals on “1453: an Empire Crumbles”

Album Review – Et Moriemur / Epigrammata (2018)

Transcending the perceptions of the death and doom styles and bringing back forgotten elements from the past, the new opus by this talented Czech band perfectly depicts our attempt to cope with the death of those we loved.

Founded in 2008 in Prague, in the Czech Republic, Atmospheric Black/Death/Doom Metal supergroup Et Moriemur, featuring members of legendary bands like Dissolving of Prodigy, Self-Hatred and Silent Stream of Godless Elegy, has been spreading what they like to call “Existential Doom” all over the world ever since. The name of the band, which is Latin for “and we will die”, already says a lot about how obscure and damned their music sounds, with their brand new album Epigrammata, the third in their already solid career, transcending the perceptions of the death and doom styles and bringing back forgotten elements from Gregorian chanting, delving into the rich European history and using Latin and ancient Greek to convey their message. Featuring an array of amazing guest musicians, Epigrammata has all of its song names in Latin taken from the Requiem Mass, notable for the large number of musical compositions that it has inspired, including settings by Mozart, Verdi, Bruckner, Dvořák, Fauré and Duruflé. Originally, such compositions were meant to be performed in liturgical service, with monophonic chant.

The band, comprised of Zdeněk Nevělík on vocals, piano and keyboards, Aleš Vilingr and Pavel Janouškovec on the guitars, Karel Kovářík on bass and Michal “Datel” Rak on drums, had a few interesting words to say about their new album. “Epigrammata represents our attempt to cope with the dying or death of those we loved. To create a solemn and classical atmosphere we used lyrics in ancient Greek (the title itself means epigrams) and in Latin, more precisely from the Mass for the dead – the album follows the typical Requiem structure, i.e. Introitus, Requiem Aeternum, Dies Irae etc. – and of course the traditional, unisono male Gregorian chant. In any case we tried not to do a uni-dimensional record. So apart from the inevitable grief there is gratitude as well for having had the chance to share our life with them and hope that they are well – wherever they are.”

Whimsical waves invade our senses in Introitus (or “prelude”), with guest Kostas Panagiotou bringing epicness to the intro with his enigmatic words before a massive wall of sounds crushes us all in Requiem Aeternam (“eternal rest”), with the doomed, sluggish beats by Datel and the imposing background choir generating a truly Stygian ambience. Furthermore, Zdeněk sounds as demonic as he can be, not to mention the potency of the music coming from the violin and cello. Then the piano by Zdeněk kicks off a Blackened Doom extravaganza titled Agnus Dei (“lamb of god”), a song that reeks of sheer darkness where cavernous growls get deeper and deeper in a delicate paradox with the smother background elements. In addition, Guest musicians Labrini Karousou and Vangelis Mertzanis provide another anguished and eccentric narration, feeling more doomed than atmospheric, and absolutely haunting and dense from start to finish. And their somber mass of Doom and Black Metal goes on with another fantastic hymn titled Dies Irae (“day of wrath”), with the band’s stringed trio Aleš, Pavel and Karel being extremely precise with their scorching, damned riffs and punches, and with the keyboards by Zdeněk sounding beautifully eccentric and wicked.

In Offertorium (“offering”) we’re treated to a Phantom of the Opera-like vibe blended with the band’s otherworldly sounds and tones, with Datel simply smashing his drums slowly and flawlessly while the choir keeps mesmerizing our minds, remaining dark and vibrant until its grand finale; whereas in the slightly faster and more piercing Communio (“communion”), Et Moriemur continue to fire their low-tuned, demonic tones intertwined with the church-like choir and a huge dosage of melancholy, maintaining the album at a vibrant and perturbing level. And in Libera Me (“rescue me”) an eerie organ together with the cavernous growls by Zdeněk generate a truly enfolding atmosphere, evolving into a lecture in Blackened Doom infused with church music elements. Furthermore, the entire band is utterly focused and energized, extracting the most damned but at the same time melodious sounds you can think of from their instruments, with every single second of this aria being beyond captivating (especially the final recitation by Zdeněk).

Then the piano by Zdeněk dictate the rhythm in Absolve Domine (“release lord”), complemented by his pensive words and cinematic-epic-imposing background sounds, with the music growing beautifully until darkness is upon us once again in the Blackened Doom aria Sanctus (“spirit”), a headbanging mass led by the crawling, gloomy beats by Datel. Hence, this amazing composition will elevate your senses with its potent sonority, not to mention how the entire band is capable of sounding so devilish and gentle at the same time. Lastly we have In Paradisum (“in paradise”), a 10-minute voyage through the realms of Existential Doom where its first part is pure old school Doom Metal, until anguished lamentations permeate the air in one of the most obscure and hypnotizing metal masses I’ve ever listened to in my life. In addition, the song’s sluggish drums, serene guitars and epic keys will penetrate deep inside your soul, with an ethereal feminine voice ending this top-notch album of Atmospheric Doom Metal majestically.

Et Moriemur are one of those bands you won’t listen to anywhere but only during your moments of introspection and melancholy, with Epigrammata representing everything the band stands for in terms of music and lyrical themes. And in order to show your support to such distinguished band, go follow them on Facebook and grab your copy of Epigrammata directly from their BandCamp page or from the Transcending Obscurity Records webstore in a Digipak CD + sticker bundle, as well as from iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and Discogs. However, if you prefer an exclusive and more stylish version of the album, I highly recommend you go after the Epigrammata Gold-embossed and UV-laminated Box Set, containing the digipak CD with booklet, an A3 size poster having a special artwork, a fridge magnet having the album artwork, two stickers of the album artwork + emblem artwork, and an individual hand-numbered certificate of ownership for your copy. It can’t get any better, more doomed and more obscure than this, and I’m sure you’re going to love it.

Best moments of the album: Agnus Dei, Libera Me and Sanctus.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Introitus 1:41
2. Requiem Aeternam 5:15
3. Agnus Dei 5:14
4. Dies Irae 4:12
5. Offertorium 5:44
6. Communio 6:14
7. Libera Me 5:18
8. Absolve Domine 2:47
9. Sanctus 6:05
10. In Paradisum 10:41

Band members
Zdeněk Nevělík – vocals, piano, keyboards
Aleš Vilingr – guitar
Pavel Janouškovec – guitar
Karel Kovářík – bass
Michal “Datel” Rak – drums

Guest musicians
Kostas Panagiotou – vocals on “Introitus”
Nikos Vlachakis – vocals on “Agnus Dei”
Labrini Karousou & Vangelis Mertzanis – recitation on “Agnus Dei”
Jaroslav Klvaňa, Karel Russ & Lukáš Pavlovský – choir
Andrea Michálková – cello
Zuzana Králová – violin
Jindřich Bešťák – trombone
Honza Kapák – acoustic guitar

Album Review – Marduk / Viktoria (2018)

A furious and aggressive fusion of Marduk’s classic Black Metal with their more contemporary warlike sound, proving once again why they’re one of the biggest names in the history of extreme music.

Following a similar (and obviously amazing) pattern from their previous albums, focusing on historical World War II lyrical themes like what they did in the demolishing Frontschwein, released in 2015, Swedish Black Metal regiment Marduk returns to the battlefield with another skull-crushing release, entitled Viktoria, the fourteenth studio album in the undisputed career of those Babylonian gods of extreme music. From the devastating sonic assault blasted by the band on the opening track “Werwolf” to the very last second in the closing tune “Silent Night”, Marduk deliver a furious and aggressive fusion of their classic Black Metal with their more contemporary warlike sound, proving once again why they’re one of the biggest names in the history of extreme music.

And the horde comprised of Daniel “Mortuus” Rostén on vocals, Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson on the guitar, Magnus “Devo” Andersson on bass and Fredrik Widigs on drums is not afraid at all of the controversy and negative reaction that the society and the media might have regarding their music and lyrics. “Overall, I would say we have a fascination with the whole war machine,” comments Morgan. “At least from my point of view, the Germans had the most fascinating machinery and equipment. Viktoria is not a standpoint, however. It’s just a reflection of history, the way it happened. With that in mind, it’s more interesting to write a soundtrack tied to specific historical events. Look at movies, for example. They’ve tackled both sides of World War II. So, Viktoria is more about history. Nothing more. Nothing less,” the axeman clarifies.

Werwolf (German for “werewolf”), which was a Nazi plan that began development in 1944 to create a resistance force which would operate behind enemy lines as the Allies advanced through Germany, was the inspiration for the opening track in Viktoria, with the wailing sirens warning about the Black Metal attack that’s about to begin and with Mortuus sounding insane and enraged on vocals while Evil delivers his usual scorching riffs in two intense minutes of extreme music. Following that demonic start we have June 44 (the best known D-Day is during World War II, on June 6, 1944, the day of the Normandy landings, initiating the Western Allied effort to liberate mainland Europe from Nazi Germany), closer to their more classic sonority with Fredrik crushing his drums in a perfect depiction of how warlike Black Metal should always sound, with the rumbling bass by Devo adding more ferocity to the overall result and the lyrics vociferated by Mortuus matching the music flawlessly (“Stubborn Jabos rip the sky / on wings of inferno into chaos / Burnt offering – killing ground / drowning in blood over and over again / See naval fire rain down / living and dead unite in a stream of anguish / A dance in the sands / of Juno and Sword / a waltz in the flames / of June 44”). And their devastation goes on in Equestrian Bloodlust, a straightforward Black Metal blasted by the quartet where Mortuus sounds even more demented than in their previous albums, while Evil and Devo are in absolute sync with their strings, generating those reverberating, evil tones we all love so much.

Tiger I, a German heavy tank of World War II deployed from 1942 in Africa and Europe which final designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. E, gave the Wehrmacht its first armoured fighting vehicle that mounted the 8.8 cm KwK 36 gun. Musically speaking, it feels like a natural “sequel” to Frontschwein’s “503”, also bringing elements of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom; however, it’s not as imposing and a bit generic, despite its austere words (“Teutonic knights of old march once again / Grand horse of steel, sword of flame – the ground is shaking / Massive apparatus of death, 58 tons of hate / unforgivingly rolling in to seal your fate”). Narva, the third largest city in Estonia, suffered devastating bombing raids on March 6 and 7, 1944 by the Soviet Air Force, destrying the baroque old town. By the end of July, 98% of Narva had been destroyed, and the music blasted by Marduk flawlessly depicts the utter devastation that happened in the city, with Fredrik once again sounding bestial on drums while Mortuus growls and gnarls manically (not to mention the song’s uprising ending). In other words, this will certainly inspire fans to slam like beasts into the circle pit during their live concerts. After such awesome tune, the slashing riffs by Evil ignite the heavy and headbanging The Last Fallen, exploding into berserk Black Metal led by Fredrik and his machine gun-like beats and fills, being effectively accompanied by the thunderous bass by Devo.

The title-track Viktoria is that trademark in-your-face Black Metal by Marduk, sounding as frantic and furious as it can be, with Mortuus spearheading the horde with his sick growling. In addition, there’s even space for some welcome progressiveness added to the sound, not to mention how infernal Fredrik sounds behind his drums. Then we have The Devil’s Song, or “SS marschiert in Feindesland” (“SS march in enemy territory”), also known as “Teufelslied” (“The Devil’s song” in German), a marching song of the Waffen-SS (the armed wing of the Nazi Party’s SS organization) during World War II, and Marduk’s “tribute” to that song is simply devastating, with the initial riffs by the bulldozer Evil piercing your brain mercilessly before all hell breaks loose. Last but not least, closing the album we have another somber, sluggish tune inspired by the most demonic form of Doom Metal, named Silent Night, representing the aftermath, the sadness and pain post-war, with a perturbing performance by Mortuus on vocals. and while listening to this crushing chant don’t forget to break your neck and spinal cord with some full-bodied headbanging.

In summary, if you love old school Black Metal and also nurture a deep interested in all things World War I and II, Viktoria is a must-have album in your “collection of evil”. The Swedish quartet takes no prisoners in their battle for extreme music, and their streak of amazing albums just keeps growing with Viktoria, which by the way is on sale at several locations as you can see HERE. Moreover, as Marduk are extremely active in the scene, always touring all over the world, keep an eye on their official Facebook page to be promptly informed of when they’re about to unleash a brutal Black Metal war in your city. Then, after the concert is over, if you’re one of the survivors you can celebrate “Viktoria” together with one of the most important and decimating Black Metal hordes of all time.

Best moments of the album: June 44, Narva, Viktoria and The Devil’s Song.

Worst moments of the album: Tiger I.

Released in 2018 Century Media

Track listing
1. Werwolf 2:02
2. June 44 3:49
3. Equestrian Bloodlust 2:51
4. Tiger I 4:12
5. Narva 4:31
6. The Last Fallen 4:25
7. Viktoria 3:26
8. The Devil’s Song 3:46
9. Silent Night 4:12

Band members
Daniel “Mortuus” Rostén – vocals
Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson – guitar
Magnus “Devo” Andersson – bass
Fredrik Widigs – drums

Guest musicians
Ella Thornell, Moa Asp & Tuva Ekstrand – backing vocals or “Werwolf”

Album Review – Borgne / [∞] (2018)

A cold, mechanical and inhumane hybrid of Industrial and Black Metal, as martial as it is hypnotic, bred by a veteran Swiss entity celebrating twenty years of chaos in the underground scene.

The path of Swiss Industrial Metal entity Borgne has never been straight. Founded by veteran multi-instrumentalist Bornyhake in 1998 in Lausanne, a city on Lake Geneva, in the French-speaking region of Vaud, Switzerland, when Borgne (which is French for “one-eyed”) debuted with a demo, the project went off the radar for almost a decade, coming back at full throttle in 2007 with two full-length albums released almost simultaneously. Another ten years and four full-length albums after, this idiosyncratic Swiss band, which recently became a two-piece army with longtime live keyboardist Lady Kaos becoming a permanent member, returns with their eight and most enigmatic opus to date, titled [∞], a cold, mechanical and inhumane hybrid of Industrial and Black Metal, as martial as it is hypnotic, beautifully freezing your every feeling.

Darker, more industrial and much more personal, [∞] will offer your metallic ears blistering Black Metal done in a synthetic way with a dense, suffocating sound and some dark ambient passages, going towards everything Borgne did in the past. “8 / ∞” is not only a number but a symbol, symbol of infinity, infinity you close inside brackets. 8 is not only a number but a word, word of hatred to break all the brackets. After twenty years of chaos, [∞] is the 8th Borgne full-length album. Featuring 8 tracks of non-traditional Black Metal, written in French and English. Chaos, darkness, feelings, loneliness, anger, insanity, suffering and death… 8 words to describe it. The most electric and complicated, fragile and deep, industrial and cold, strange and tormented album Borgne ever did,” said Bornyhake about his newborn spawn.

And the duo builds an enfolding and creepy atmosphere with their keys, beats and background effects in the opening track La Porte Du Chaos (or “the door of chaos” in English), with the music exploding into a modern and imposing hybrid of Industrial and Black Metal, an insane and mesmerizing amalgamation of sounds where Bornyhake desperately screams and gnarls from the bottom of his Stygian heart. Then there’s not a single empty space in the whimsical and modernized Peu Importe Si Elle M’Aura Aveuglé (which means something like “it doesn’t matter if she has blinded me”), with both Bornyhake and Lady Kaos kicking ass with their blast beats and ominous keys, respectively, with an epic and darkened aura permeating the air. Moreover, Bornyhake’s roars in French will certainly pierce your mind throughout this multi-layered Industrial Black Metal extravaganza. In the stunning Un Temps Périt (or “a time perishes”), a gentle intro led by Lady Kaos’ hypnotizing keys evolves into a mournful musicality, presenting hints of Blackened Doom and Doom Metal and, therefore, feeling ethereal and somber at the same time from start to finish. And in Comme Si Ça S’Arrêtera… / Stone (or “as if it will stop… / stone”), get ready for over 10 minutes of absolute madness, electricity and darkness, with Bornyhake generating a path of devastation with his modernized blast beats, while the second half of the song is an intricate musical journey of pulverizing drums, obscure keyboards and endless dementia.

Bornyhake and Lady Kaos don’t stop captivating our senses with their unique sonority in I Tear Apart My Blackened Wings pt.1, another slow and melancholic creation by the duo where they deliver obscurity and hope all at once, or in other words, simply close your eyes and get lost in this thrilling hymn of modern industrial music. I Tear Apart My Blackened Wings pt.2 / Sun, the second part of this grandiose aria by Borgne, will blow your senses with its demonic drumming and scorching riffage in a very detailed and complete blend of the violence of Black Metal with the innovative approach of Industrial Metal, changing its shape and form quite a few times before its stylish acoustic ending, followed by Mis À Mort, Mis À Nu (which means “put to death, exposed”), a blast of sonic experimentations and piercing tones and noises, with Lady Kaos once again bringing tons of epicness to the overall musicality with her distinguished keys while Bornyhake keeps haunting our souls with his gnarls and slashing riffs. If anyone asks you what Borgne is all about, you can use this song to show what the duo is capable of, flawlessly depicting all the band’s creativity, stamina and rage. Lastly, be prepared to be embraced by a whirlwind of soothing sounds in Chuter, an “extended” outro to a beautiful album of contemporary extreme music where both Bornyhake and Lady Kaos showcase their refined techniques by creating a captivating ambience and, as a consequence, dominating our minds.

You can take a detailed listen at the flammable [∞] on YouTube, and purchase the album directly from Borgne’s BandCamp or Big Cartel (in CD or tape format), as well as from the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp or Big Cartel. Also, don’t forget to check their Facebook page for some nice-to-know details about the band including their tour dates, something that does happen a lot as Bornyhake and Lady Kaos have the help of bassist Tumulash and guitarist Onbra Oscoura during their live performances. To sum up, [∞] is not just the brand new album by Borgne, but a solid statement that modern and mechanized extreme music is stronger than ever (especially in places like Switzerland, where the scene has always been extremely fertile), and that Borgne is one of those bands any type of metalhead should try at least once in their lifetime to change their perception of dark and underground music.

Best moments of the album: La Porte Du Chaos, Un Temps Périt and Mis À Mort, Mis À Nu.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Avantgarde Music

Track listing
1. La Porte Du Chaos 7:17
2. Peu Importe Si Elle M’Aura Aveuglé 7:12
3. Un Temps Périt 6:03
4. Comme Si Ça S’Arrêtera… / Stone 10:20
5. I Tear Apart My Blackened Wings pt.1 9:02
6. I Tear Apart My Blackened Wings pt.2 / Sun 8:04
7. Mis À Mort, Mis À Nu 6:59
8. Chuter 7:05

Band members
Bornyhake – vocals, guitars, drums
Lady Kaos – keyboards

Album Review – Hell’s Coronation / Unholy Blades of the Devil EP (2018)

An infernal duo hailing from Poland consolidates their pact with darkness with a brand new EP of devilish “Nekroritual Black Doom Metal”.

Forged in the year of 2016 in the scorching fires of Gdańsk, Poland, hometown of the almighty Blackened Death Metal institution Behemoth, Black Metal duo Hell’s Coronation has risen from the underworld to unleash upon humanity what they like to call “Nekroritual Black Doom Metal” with their brand new EP titled Unholy Blades of the Devil. Featuring a diabolical cover art by Polish artist Lord K. (aka Piotr Jeziorski), who also worked with the band on their 2017 EP Antichristian Devotion, Unholy Blades of the Devil brings forward around 15 minutes of sheer darkness, hatred and blasphemy, courtesy of the talented Zepar on vocals, guitars and keyboards, and the unrelenting Coffincrusher on bass and drums. In other words, the pact with darkness has been consummated, and Hell’s Coronation are more than willing to provide a soundtrack to that.

A dark, eerie and lustful intro titled Empty Shells Of The Sacrament presents wicked noises and moans, hypnotizing us all before all hell breaks loose in Temple Of Wickedness, with Zepar gnarling in the most malignant form possible while Coffincrusher fires some rhythmic and utterly Stygian beats. In a nutshell, the whole song exhales the most primeval form of Black Metal, boosted by a high dosage of Doom Metal and obscurity coming from its scorching riffs and background vociferations, remaining sluggish and austere until its hellish ending. And Sulfur keeps reeking in the air in the also disturbing Descent Into The Depths Of Unspeakable Evil, where Zepar continues to pave his path of darkness with his almost-vomiting, sick growls and devilish guitar lines, supported by the dense “hell’s kitchen” by Coffincrusher and by his own phantasmagorical keyboards.

The following chant, entitled Satanic Scepter, is an old school and extremely vile display of underground Black Metal led by the infernal roars by Zepar, with its lyrics being so dark and intense they deserve to be fully appreciated even if you can’t understand what’s being growled (“The most distant circles of hell / They infect a soul with possessed dance / Devilish spells run from the edge of the dimensions / I kneel before the fire / Bidding with ghosts / Madness flows through the umbilical cord / From the wolf`s womb was born the antichrist / Rebirth emperor and enlightenment guide / In the light of the black flame / Time to say what`s unspoken / I gave you a treasure chest and cup of semen / By extinguishing all the sun / I give you the scepter of the night / Cold and wild spectacle of master of the land”). And lastly Luciferian Wind Blows From The North displays a beyond creepy intro guided by the howling wind and the sinister keys by Zepar, opening the gates to the netherworld and bringing elements from Blackened Doom to increase its bitter taste, in special its slow and steady beats and macabre riffs. After listening to such devilish display of underground metal, the EP couldn’t have ended in a more diabolical way, I might say.

If you have what it takes to enter the dark and sinister world ruled by Hell’s Coronation, you should definitely visit their Facebook page for news and other nice-to-know details about the band, and grab your copy of Unholy Blades of the Devil (available for a full listen HERE) directly from the Godz ov War Productions’ BandCamp or webstore, as well as from Discogs in CD or in cassette format. Unholy Blades of the Devil might be just the second installment by this up-and-coming Polish act, but it already showcases a band that’s truly focused on writing high-end music and, of course, on worshiping darkness, and I’m sure not only fans of extreme music from all over the world will enjoy their music, but if their EP reaches the hands of a guy like Adam “Nergal” Darski, he’ll be more than proud of his fellow Gdańsk-based infernal duo without a shadow of a doubt.

Best moments of the album: Descent Into The Depths Of Unspeakable Evil and Satanic Scepter.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Godz ov War Productions

Track listing  
1. Empty Shells Of The Sacrament 1:54
2. Temple Of Wickedness 6:41
3. Descent Into The Depths Of Unspeakable Evil 6:02
4. Satanic Scepter 5:37
5. Luciferian Wind Blows From The North 8:04

Band members
Zepar – vocals, guitars, keyboards
Coffincrusher – bass, drums

Album Review – Altars of Grief / Iris (2018)

Highly influenced by the desolate landscapes and the solitude of long, prairie winters, here comes one of the biggest names in Canadian Blackened Doom with a superb new album narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter.

Formed in November 2013 in Regina, the capital city of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, Blackened Doom act Altars of Grief has worked over the years to develop a weighty concoction of Death Metal, Sludge Metal, Funeral Doom and Atmospheric Black Metal along with a strong focus on storytelling and the desire to convey authentic emotion, highly influenced by the desolate landscapes and the solitude of long, prairie winters that inspired the moniker of “Prairie Doom Metal”. After the release of their 2014 debut fill-length album This Shameful Burden, the band returns in full force with the bold and multi-layered Iris, narrating a tragic story of a deeply flawed man and his dying daughter, named Iris.

Featuring a stunning artwork by Travis Smith from Seempieces, brilliantly depicting Iris’ final moments as she kneels before the winter beset church and embraces her fate, and the mesmerizing cello by Raphael Weinroth-Browne (who by the way played cello for Canadian Folk/Melodic Black Metal band Thrawsunblat on their amazing 2016 opus Metachthonia), Iris is not just an album of heavy music, but an amalgamation of emotions that will transport your mind and soul to the desolation of the prairies. “The story of Iris is very much rooted in our prairie surroundings and deals with the struggles of addiction, sickness and religion. A father finds himself unable to connect with and care for his young daughter, Iris, who has fallen seriously ill. Spiraling deeper and deeper into his vices, and feeling rejected by Iris’ new found and unwavering faith, he gets into his car and decides to leave her behind. Somewhere along the icy road, he loses control of his vehicle and perishes. His purgatory is to watch helplessly as Iris slowly succumbs to her illness without him”, comments the band’s lead singer Damian Smith.

Melancholy and grief permeate the air in the opening track Isolation, a masterpiece of darkness led by the strident and somber guitars by Erik Labossiere and Evan Paulson, while Damian obscurely declaims the song’s lyrics through his anguished gnarls, proving why he’s a poet of the underworld. Hence, the music flows majestically until its grand finale, setting the tone for Desolation, where a Stygian atmosphere is suddenly joined by heavy-as-hell riffs and the crushing Black Metal beats by Zack Bellina, also presenting introspective and touching words (“I opened my eyes / To the night sky / The unending storm / Revealed itself before me / Weightless in my resolve / But, still a burden remains / With this final breath / Please, forgive me”). Moreover, it’s simply impressive how Altars of Grief can sound so distinct from one song to another, also bringing forth a perfect balance between harsh growls and deep clean vocals.

The title-track Iris brings forward more of the band’s enfolding musicality, blending the aggressiveness of Atmospheric Black Metal with the obscurity of Doom Metal, also presenting very subtle nuances of Melodic Black Metal. In addition, Erik and Evan once again fire a mix of rage and harmony through their flammable strings, enhancing the taste of this very complete and bold composition. Then we have Child of Light, where an epic and melancholic intro evolves into a full-bodied sound, and with Zack together with bassist Donny Pinay building a massive, atmospheric wall of sounds with their instruments, generating the perfect ambience for all vocal styles used by the band; followed by Broken Hymns, another captivating, neck-breaking tune where Raphael is truly outstanding with his cello, adding a marvelous touch of delicacy and melancholy to the overall musicality. In other words, this is a song tailored for closing your eyes and letting the band guide your mind and soul to their dark and mournful world.

And Altars of Grief personify the grievous, obscure voices of the bitterly cold winds of winter in the Atmospheric Black Metal extravaganza titled Voices of Winter, with Damian’s growls being delicately complemented by Raphael’s stunning cello sounds and the whimsical guitars by Erik and Evan, whereas in Becoming Intangible the sound of the cello and the acoustic guitars walk hand in hand in the smoothest way possible before morphing into contemporary extreme music, sounding very atmospheric, gripping and bold until its beyond piercing ending. Zack is once again a beast on drums, not to mention the latent poetry found in the song’s lyrics (“I can barely see the sun / I guess this path was truly flawed / Judgement comes with revelation / And, I’ve never felt so close to God”), flowing into one of the most beautiful outros in underground extreme music, titled Epilogue, performed by Raphael and his always astounding cello.

You can listen to Iris in its entirety on YouTube, follow Altars of Grief on Facebook, and purchase your copy of this masterpiece of the underworld from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp or webstore in distinct bundles (Iris CD, Iris CD + Nachtterror / Altars of Grief – Of Ash and Dying Light vinyl split, Iris CD + shirt + patch, and Iris CD + Nachtterror / Altars of Grief vinyl split + shirt + patch), as well as from iTunes or from Amazon. If you were not familiar with “Prairie Doom Metal” before listening to Iris, now you have a very good reason to get to know more about such distinct sub-genre of extreme music. But if Altars of Grief are already a recurrent part of your playlist, the emotional story told in Iris will simply make you even more addicted to their desolate and imposing sounds.

Best moments of the album: Isolation, Iris and Broken Hymns.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Isolation 9:19
2. Desolation 6:15
3. Iris 6:20
4. Child of Light 7:02
5. Broken Hymns 8:11
6. Voices of Winter 7:26
7. Becoming Intangible 9:17
8. Epilogue 2:05

Band members
Damian Smith – vocals
Erik Labossiere – guitars, vocals
Evan Paulson – guitars, vocals, programming
Donny Pinay – bass, vocals
Zack Bellina – drums, vocals on “Broken Hymns”

Guest musician
Raphael Weinroth-Browne – cello on “Isolation”, “Child of Light”, “Broken Hymns”, “Voices of Winter” and “Becoming Intangible”, all instruments on “Epilogue”