Album Review – Forlet Sires / Holy (2019)

The “abandoned forefathers” of Switzerland continue their explorations of uneasy, heavy music with their excellent sophomore opus of Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal.

Brought into being in late 2013 in Winterthur, a Swiss city northeast of Zurich, near the German border, Atmospheric Black/Doom Metal unity Forlet Sires might have started out as a conventional Atmospheric Black Metal project, but soon the band started to incorporate influences from several distinct styles such as classic Black Metal, Doom Metal and even Progressive Metal, consolidating a new approach on the genre without any boundaries while keeping a grief aspect in every tone. Now in 2019 the band comprised of Kilian Schmid on vocals, Tobias Kalt and Sebastian Vogt on the guitars, Matthias Menzi on bass and Daniele Brumana on drums returns in full force with Holy, the follow-up to their 2016 debut album Journey Towards Ruin and a lesson in atmospheric and utterly dark music.

Recorded by Forlet Sires at Gaswerk Winterthur with assistance from Pascal Pendl and George Necola, mixed by Billy Anderson, mastered by Justin Weis and featuring a stylish artwork by Adam Burke that perfectly depicts the album’s sense of death, abandonment and hopelessness, Holy presents an evolved version of Forlet Sires (by the way, an old English expression that roughly translates to “abandoned forefathers”, expressing how mankind has lost its way in various aspects) continuing their explorations of uneasy, heavy music, creating an elusive net of insecurity and surpassing music barriers while following the band into their sonic abyss. These words might sound a bit too poetic for some of you, but as soon as you start listening to Holy I’m sure you’ll realize no words can effectively describe the dark and atmospheric poetry flowing from Forlet Sires’ music.

Melancholy permeates the air from the very first second in the opening track Carnage and Candor, with Tobias and Sebastian taking the lead with their somber guitar lines, suddenly exploding into visceral Atmospheric Doom Metal for our total delight with Kilian roaring like an infernal beast. Moreover, this multi-layered aria brings forward tons of progressiveness and obscurity, getting more and more infuriated as the music progresses with Daniele adding a touch of evil with his Black Metal blast beats, ending in a truly grim and vile manner just the way we like it in Doom Metal. Then in Where Nothing Shall Thrive we’re treated to a classic display of Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal that leans towards the most vicious form of Blackened Doom you can think of, all enhanced by the physiological and somber lyrics vociferated by Kilian (“You’re alive, alone. You’re afraid, you tried. Devils are in your mind, lining you up to die. Fade away, longing for more. Feel the void, mourn the waste of life. Youth was lost, faster than you thought. Midlife has passed, all you did was dreaming. Gently conditioned, ambition repressed by degrees.”). And to make things even better, the stringed trio Tobias, Sebastian and Matthias exhale heaviness and evil from their axes throughout the entire song, not to mention the lesson in intricacy and darkness given by Daniele on drums.

Dead Skin, a demonic hybrid of Progressive Metal and Blackened Doom by the quintet, sounds and feels as wicked as it can be,  with Kilian leading his horde with his demented growls and gnarls while the sound of guitars penetrates deep inside your skin and Matthias delivers tons of groove from his bass, resulting in a full-bodied composition that will please all fans of the genre without a shadow of a doubt. And lastly, the thunderous bass by Matthias together with Daniele’s drums generate a beyond aggressive atmosphere in We Roam This World Alone, the epitome of Atmospheric Doom Metal showcasing Stygian words that carry a message of anguish and grief growled by Kilian (“Cold sorrow claims all hope. Live on, for reasons unknown. Falling. Fallen. While I’m bleeding unappealing strands of purulence, I am feeding off a cyst on this dry cunt.”). Hence, keep banging your head nonstop to Tobias’ and Sebastian’s crushing riffage until the song’s climatic finale, overflowing desperation and evil.

It’s quite impressive how Forlet Sires are capable of crafting lengthy, complex and sorrowful compositions without sounding tiresome or repetitive; quite the contrary, each one of the four songs found in Holy, available in full on Spotify, will keep you mesmerized, dragging you into a downward spiral of darkness together with the band, which in the end means they were more than successful in their aforementioned duty of generating fresh and at the same time mournful music. If you want to show your true support to this talented Swiss army of doom, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and grab your copy of Holy from their BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, preparing your blackened mind and soul for the most desolating and melancholic moments in life.

Best moments of the album: Where Nothing Shall Thrive and We Roam This World Alone.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Cruel Bones

Track listing
1. Carnage and Candor 12:37
2. Where Nothing Shall Thrive 7:45
3. Dead Skin 8:59
4. We Roam This World Alone 11:23

Band members
Kilian Schmid – vocals
Tobias Kalt – guitars
Sebastian Vogt – guitars
Matthias Menzi – bass
Daniele Brumana – drums

Album Review – Necronomicon / UNUS (2019)

Canadian powerhouses of Blackened Death Metal return with the heaviest, most obscure and most infernal opus of their undisputed 30-plus-year career.

The gates to the underworld are open once again for another onslaught of Canadian Blackened Death Metal, courtesy of the most demonic and ancient horde hailing from the city of Montreal, the one and only infernal beast Necronomicon, and you better get ready for the searing cacophony of blistering riffs, machine-like drums and a symphonic ambiance found in their brand new album, titled UNUS, the Latin word for “one”. And the band founded by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Rob “The Witch” Tremblay back in the distant year of 1988 sounds better than ever in their newborn spawn, proving why Necronomicon have been on the road for such a long period of time and, more important than that, continuously producing high-quality metal that’s just as dark and brutal as it is elegant.

Recorded at Silver Wings Studio, mixed and mastered at Darth Mader Music, and featuring a grim cover art and layout by German artist Totleben (Metal Artworks), UNUS, the crushing and cinematic follow up to the band’s 2016 opus Advent of the Human God, flawlessly combines the most infuriated elements of Death Metal with the orchestral prowess of Black Metal, creating the perfect synthesis of both genres and being highly recommended for fans of the music by Dimmu Borgir, Septicflesh, Behemoth and Deicide. Accompanied by newcomer Divider on drums, Rob takes care of all vocal duties, guitars and bass on the album, which therefore creates a very powerful and honest connection between the band’s mastermind and the music found in his new album, also showcasing all his refined skills and passion for dark music.

And Rob begins his onrush of violence and darkness in From Ashes into Flesh, featuring cryptic, phantasmagorical piano notes by guest musician Geirlioz. From the very first second we can witness how sensational Divider is on drums, setting fire to the music with his hellish beats. Put differently, what a bestial display of Symphonic Black Metal to kick off the album, with that devilish aura going on in  Infinitum Continuum, where the slashing riffs by Rob dictate the rhythm while his vocals sound a lot more Death Metal than ever, bringing an extra dosage of rage to the music. Its flammable musicality is beyond perfect for slamming into the circle pit, not to mention Rob’s incendiary guitar solo, elevating the overall quality of the album to new heights. Then it’s time for Divider to crush our skulls with his rumbling drums in Paradise Lost, a lesson in Blackened Death Metal by Necronomicon, sounding as dense and obscure as it can be and with Rob growling and roaring like a true creature from the netherworld.

The cinematic instrumental bridge The Price of a Soul sets the stage for Rob and Divider to explode our senses in the fulminating Singularis Dominus, a grandiose display of Black and Death Metal showcasing nonstop blast beats, electrifying riffs and deep, harsh growls. Put differently, it can’t get any better than this, with all that devastation being embraced by an epic aura generated by the song’s  background keys and choir, flowing like an arrow on fire in pitch black darkness until its thunderous finale. And a mesmerizing intro evolves into an Arabian nightmare entitled The Thousand Masks, with its keys bringing an extra dosage of epicness to the overall musicality, while Rob is on fire with his demonic growls and Divider keeps smashing our skulls with his blast beats.

Arising from the underworld like a fiendish entity, Necronomicon blend the aggressiveness of their trademark Blackened Death Metal with the obscurity of Blackened Doom in Ascending The Throne of Baator, feeling utterly sluggish and disturbing from start to finish and with the strident sound of its guitars being perfect for haunting your damned soul during your sleepless nights. Fhtagn is another atmospheric instrumental piece emerging from the crypts of Hades, preparing the listener for the devastating anthem Cursed MMXIX, a thrash-death-black spawn that will rip your heart out and feed it to the demons, with Rob delivering sheer darkness through his Death and Black Metal riffs and monstrous guttural vocals, resulting in what’s by far one of the heaviest and most frantic of all songs of the album. And Vox Draconis, the last song in UNUS, is just as brutal and exhilarating than its predecessors, bringing forward insanely sharp and heavy guitar solos by Rob supported by Divider’s rhythmic and precise drumming. What an epic and thunderous ending fur such grandiose album of Extreme Metal, I might say, leaving us completely disoriented and eager for more of Necronomicon’s music in a not-so-distant future.

You can get a very good sense of how somber and powerful the music found in UNUS is by listening to the full album on YouTube or on Spotify, but of course if I were you I would definitely purchase one of the best underground albums of 2019 from Necronomicon’s own BandCamp page, from the Season of Mist webstore, from the Napalm Records webstore, or from several other locations such as the FYE webstore, Waterloo Records, Apple Music or Amazon. Rob and his horde really stepped up their game in their 2016 opus Advent of the Human God, sounding extremely focused and professional back then, but there’s something about UNUS, which is by the way the “666th” album in their career,  that makes it absolutely addictive and evil, just like the fictional grimoire from H. P. Lovecraft’s horror stories that gives the band its classy name. It might be its absurd level of darkness and rage, its frantic speed, its epicness or everything at once. What really matters is that Necronomicon kicks ass in UNUS, cementing their name as one of the powerhouses of Canadian extreme music and, therefore, positioning them as the true leaders of extreme music in Canada hands down.

Best moments of the album: Infinitum Continuum, Singularis Dominus, The Thousand Masks and Cursed MMXIX.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. From Ashes into Flesh 4:23
2. Infinitum Continuum 5:27
3. Paradise Lost 4:55
4. The Price of a Soul 1:56
5. Singularis Dominus 4:50
6. The Thousand Masks 3:20
7. Ascending The Throne of Baator 4:54
8. Fhtagn 1:59
9. Cursed MMXIX 4:13
10. Vox Draconis 4:13

Band members
Rob “The Witch” Tremblay – vocals, guitar, bass
Divider – drums

Guest musician
Geirlioz – piano on “From Ashes into Flesh”

Album Review – Tableau Mort / Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion (2019)

A spiritual journey exploring humanity’s fixation with knowledge, sacrifice and perfection in the form of atmospheric and emotional Black Metal.

Drawing on symbolic and thematic influences from Romanian Orthodox Christianity, Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion, the debut album by British Black Metal horde Tableau Mort, is a spiritual journey exploring humanity’s fixation with knowledge, sacrifice and perfection, which is often a path to madness. Recorded and produced by Jerry Sadowski and George Topor, mixed and mastered by Neil Haynes at Parlour Studios, and featuring a beyond obscure artwork by Alex Shadrin (Nether Temple Design), Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion will bring to your ears a truly atmospheric and emotional sound that is both melodic and melancholic, also mixing Orthodox chanting with frenzied screams to expand on the band’s macabre foundations.

Formed in 2017 in London, the band comprised of veteran musicians of the underground scene (all of Romanian origin), those being James Andrews on lead vocals, George Topor on the guitar, keys and backing vocals, Cristian Giurgiu also on the guitar, Marek Basista on bass and George Bratosin on drums and backing vocals, might describe themselves as a Black Metal band, but there are in fact a lot more aspects and layers to their sound, resulting in the modern and powerful music found in Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion. Not only that, the band also invests heavily on their onstage performance and attire, proving those servants of the dark are more than prepared to spread their blasphemous message all over the world no matter who their enemies are.

Darkness is already upon us in the melodic and boisterous opening track Impending Corruption, where atmospheric keys complement the slashing riffs by George Topor and Cristian while James leads the horde with his fiendish gnarls and screeches. After such ominous start it’s time for Fall of Man and its darkly poetic lyrics (“And I find in your face, a most unfamiliar maze / I gaze at the sky as the colour bleeds out of space / In this moment of grief I light myself ablaze”), a Black Metal mass with hints of classic Blackened Doom (which obviously makes it even more menacing) where George Bratosin sounds extremely precise and brutal at the same time on drums. And it seems Tableau Mort want to get darker and darker as the album progresses, just like what we’re able to witness in Carpenter Of Sorrow, with Marek’s low-tune, devilish bass lines building a thunderous base for James to thrive with his unearthly roars; whereas Broken On The Wheel is a sonic mass of Stygian and venomous sounds where George Topor and Cristian are absolutely infernal with their guitars, while George Bratosin alternates between blast beats and doomed, intricate passages for our vulgar delectation.

Leaning towards classic Norwegian Black Metal, the band offers us an explosion of the most aggressive and obscure sounds you can think of in Tapestry Sewn, where James and George Bratosin sound utterly demonic on vocals and drums, respectively, and also bringing the most obscure elements from old school Doom Metal, therefore being prohibited for the lighthearted.  The band’s guitar duo keep crushing their sulfurous strings in Mother’s Promise while Marek and George Bratosin make the earth tremble with their weapons, inspiring us all to bang our heads and raise our horns to this ode to all things evil. Last but not least, a gargantuan amount of heaviness flows from all instruments in Beyond His Gaze, reeking of despair and insanity and showcasing captivating, poetic lyrics (“In Every blade of grass that shoots from the ground / The animals that graze, the parasites that feed / The rays of the sun that penetrate the darkness / The breeze that carries the rain”). Furthermore, the beyond demonic growling by James adds an extra touch of malignancy to this devilish aria, putting a climatic ending to such astounding album.

Tableau Mort’s lecture in Romanian Orthodox Christianity in the form of somber and disturbing Black Metal can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support to those UK metallers simply follow them on Facebook and purchase your copy of Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion from Loud Rage Music’s BandCamp or webstore, as well as from Apple Music, Amazon or Discogs. Tableau Mort are definitely pinning the entire UK on the worldwide map of Black Metal with their music, and based on their skills, passion for heavy music and creativity, they have the potential to become one of the references of the genre in the coming years, leaving their mark already upon humanity with Veil of Stigma. Book I: Mark of Delusion, and leaving us eager for more of their cryptic creations.

Best moments of the album: Fall of Man and Tapestry Sewn.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Loud Rage Music

Track listing
1. Impending Corruption 4:32
2. Fall of Man 6:17
3. Carpenter Of Sorrow 4:37
4. Broken On The Wheel 4:55
5. Tapestry Sewn 5:02
6. Mother’s Promise 4:41
7. Beyond His Gaze 6:18

Band members
James Andrews – lead vocals
George Topor – guitar, keys, backing vocals
Cristian Giurgiu – guitar
Marek Basista – bass
George Bratosin – drums, backing vocals

Album Review – Mavradoxa / Nightmarrow (2019)

The final breath of dark and heavy sounds by a now extinct metal unity will take you on a journey of isolation and hopelessness through the realms of Atmospheric Black Metal.

Let me begin this review by saying that I was absolutely shocked when I read earlier this year that the beyond promising and talented Rochester, New York-based Atmospheric Black Metal band Mavradoxa was calling it quits after only a few years of existence. Fortunately for all of us, fans of dark and atmospheric music, the band left us with three excellent full-length albums, those being their 2016 debut opus Sojourners, their fantastic 2017 release Lethean Lament, and more recently Nightmarrow, released earlier this year via Hypnotic Dirge Records. Although related to the tonal atmosphere and character of their previous albums, Nightmarrow sees the band developing and intensifying their song-writing ability, crafting simultaneously cohesive yet unpredictable songs with a progressive hue that is still rooted in Atmospheric Black Metal.

Engineered by Nicholas Alan at Subterranean Studios, mixed by Stephen Parker (Pillorian, Maestus), mastered by Justin Weis at Trakworx Recording, and featuring a stunning artwork by American artist Dylan Garrett Smith, Nightmarrow represents a meditation on the isolation and hopelessness of our age (particularly in the realm of the urban), and the consequences of technology and voracious consumption of resources. Mavradoxa’s founding duo Zachary Smith, also known as Nival, and Monica Finger, also known as Lux, together with guitarist Tyler Stasierowski (from The Highest Leviathan) and bassist Josh Mason (from Wandering Oak and Acrylazea), perfectly depict that feeling of solitude and desperation in Nightmarrow, positioning the unfortunately now defunct band as one of the most creative and interesting bands of the underground scene in the United States.

Featuring guest vocals by Matt Greenwood and an additional guitar solo by Nicholas Alan, the opening track Maple begins in full force with the razor-edged riffs by Zach and Tyler and the intricate beats by Monica generating a rumbling ambience perfect for Zach’s anguished roars, sounding as powerful and grim just the way we like it in Atmospheric Black Metal. Furthermore, the song’s progressive ending flows smoothly into the even darker musical voyage entitled The Carrion Shade, where Josh and Monica make the earth tremble with their respective instruments while the entire band darkly intones the song’s cryptic lyrics (“Black sun, black moon / In shadows, entombed / Flame, gold, & rust / slowly coalesced / in the pale of the / last winter sunset”). This is Progressive Black Metal at its finest showcasing all band members in absolute sync, therefore delivering a crushing wall of blackened sounds for our total delight, in special Zach and Tyler with their flammable guitars.

Matt Greenwood returns in the title-track Nightmarrow, where the music gets closer to what was offered to us in Lethean Lament, presenting more introspective and atmospheric sounds and passages. Zach sounds utterly enraged and acid on vocals, with Monica’s gentle clean vocals bringing more balance to this dense and bold feast of extreme music. Then an acoustic, ethereal bridge named Rustling Leaves soothes our souls and warms up our senses for Black Crystal Snowfall, featuring guest vocals by Swamp and sheer poetry flowing from its lyrics (“Ancestral whispers beckon us back / to a starless womb, to a time before / this place where all is languishing, / where all is ensnared by the grasp / of synthetic hands, becoming, / and ripping our bones from within”), also bringing forward elements from Blackened Doom added to their core atmospheric music. Monica’s steady beats and Zach’s and Tyler’s crisp riffs will undoubtedly embrace your soul from start to finish, reaching a climatic and piercing grand finale that gently morphs into a melancholic outro titled Umbra, where Zach and Tyler deliver a passionate performance with their acoustic guitars, concluding Nightmarrow on a high and pensive note.

If Nightmarrow, which by the way is available in full on YouTube and on Spotify, is indeed the last breath of Atmospheric Black Metal by Mavradoxa no one knows for sure. The band might decide to come back from their “retirement” one day to smash our senses again with their somber music, who knows? Until that day arrives (if it arrives,  of course), you can keep in touch with Zach and Monica on Facebook, and purchase your copy of Mavradoxa’s final journey through the realms of atmospheric and extreme music from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp page (or click HERE for all details about the band and where to buy their music), as well as from your regular retailers such as Apple Music, Amazon, CD Baby and Discogs. Having said that, it’s with a heavy heart that I finalize this review (or maybe I should call it a tribute), as heavy, ominous and splendorous as the music by the now extinct Mavradoxa. Thank you for your music, Zah and Monica, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing from you two again in a not-so-distant future.

Best moments of the album: The Carrion Shade and Nightmarrow.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Maple 7:41
2. The Carrion Shade 9:25
3. Nightmarrow 9:34
4. Rustling Leaves 1:45
5. Black Crystal Snowfall 10:57
6. Umbra 3:40

Band members
Zachary Smith – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Monica Finger – drums, vocals
Tyler Stasierowski – electric guitars, 12-string acoustic guitar
Josh Mason – fretless bass guitar

Guest musicians
Matt Greenwood – guest vocals on “Maple” and “Nightmarrow”
Swamp – guest vocals on “Black Crystal Snowfall”
Nicholas Alan – additional lead guitar on “Maple”

Album Review – Mettadone / Rotten Flattery (2019)

This talented Ukrainian entity returns after four long years with a much darker and rawer sound, bringing to our ears first-class European Death and Doom Metal.

Formed in 2014 as a Gothic-doom duo by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Evgeniy Shamarin in Kharkiv, a city in northeast Ukraine which is considered the Black Metal capital of the country, Death/Doom Metal unity Mettadone are ready to crush with a brand new lineup and musical direction in their sophomore album Rotten Flattery, highly recommended for fans of bands with a classic 90’s European sound such as Hypocrisy, Edge of Sanity and Paradise Lost. Comprised of the aforementioned Evgeniy on vocals and lead guitar, Sergey Baskakov also on the guitar, Alexander Chernyakhovsky on bass and Alexey Silenko on drums, Mettadone decided to venture through much darker and devilish lands in Rotten Flattery than what we were able to witness in their debut album Invisible Disease, mainly thanks to Evgeniy moving from drums to vocals and guitar when their previous vocalist left the band, switching from their My Dying Bride-inspired sonority to a much rawer approach, consequently sounding closer to other amazing underground acts like Warcrab, Moss Upon The Skull, Refusal and their countrymen 1914.

The quartet begins hammering their instruments mercilessly in the opening track Mind’s Prisoner, showcasing a well-balanced fusion of classic Death Metal and old school Doom Metal (and even Blackened Doom), with Evgeniy growling like a demon while Alexey crushes his drums in great fashion; whereas in Obscurity of Hypocrisy they keep blasting hatred and rage in the form of extreme music, with the band’s guitar duo Evgeniy and Sergey being on absolute fire, adding a welcome touch of evil to the music with their raw, razor-edged riffs. Then Alexander and Alexey extract pure metallic and utterly menacing sounds form their respective instruments in Untrue Entity, generating a thunderous atmosphere perfect for Evgeniy’s demented roars, resulting in six minutes of darkened sounds perfect for banging your head like there’s no tomorrow. And in Pray for Help we’re treated to a more ferocious version of classic Sludge and Doom Metal, with symphonic elements bringing epicness and melancholy to the overall musicality. Furthermore, it’s a pleasure to listen to Alexey on drums, as he can be at the same time infernal and very technical, never letting the music get stale or tiresome.

Living up to the legacy of underground Doom Metal, the quartet delivers the Stygian tune On the Verge, showcasing a beautiful work done by Evgeniy, Sergey and Alexander with their stringed weapons, and also presenting some clean vocals and crisp guitar solos as “bonuses” for our avid ears. In a Funeral Home showcases creepy piano notes intertwined with cutting riffs and pounding drums in what’s the darkest of all songs of the album with its seven minutes of demonic sounds and a strong feeling of hopelessness, just the way we like it in old school doom, also sounding very progressive and intricate from start to finish. Act of Revenge is another song tailored for ripping your spinal chord headbanging where Evgeniy’s growls get deeper and deeper as the music progresses, with the band’s guitarists being in absolute sync, therefore delivering flammable riffs from their axes while Alexey dictates the rhythm with his hellish beats. The last track from the regular version of the album, entitled Orphan, will pierce your ears and minds with its classic Doom Metal sonority infused with Death Metal nuances, and you better be ready because the quartet won’t stop hitting you hard with their vicious music, with the song’s ending being an interesting mix of the Death Metal by Unleashed with the obscure music by Paradise Lost. And lastly, Mettadone offer us more of their dark and visceral music in the bonus track He’ll Not Be Alive, where Evgeniy keeps gnarling demonically while his bandmates fire insanity and violence from their instruments, with the strident sound of guitars being simply fantastic and extremely enjoyable.

After listening to Rotten Flattery, I’m more than sure this new version of Mettadone is here to stay, providing fans of obscure doom and death everything they can ask for in underground extreme music. Hence, don’t forget to give Mettadone a shout on Facebook and on VKontakte, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their visceral music, and obviously to purchase a copy of Rotten Flattery from the Archaic Sound’s BandCamp page or from Discogs. After all is said and done, although Kharkiv might be considered the Black Metal capital of Ukraine, let’s say that the city also has its share of first-class Death and Doom Metal to offer us fans, thanks to the great job done by Mettadone in their brand new opus and hopefully in many more to come in their promising career.

Best moments of the album: Obscurity of Hypocrisy, Pray for Help and Act of Revenge.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Archaic Sound

Track listing
1. Mind’s Prisoner 7:10
2. Obscurity of Hypocrisy 4:26
3. Untrue Entity 6:16
4. Pray for Help 5:31
5. On the Verge 6:41
6. In a Funeral Home 7:06
7. Act of Revenge 5:26
8. Orphan 7:34

Bonus track
9. He’ll Not Be Alive 3:49

Band members
Evgeniy Shamarin – lead vocals, guitars
Sergey Baskakov – guitars
Alexander Chernyakhovsky – bass
Alexey Silenko – drums

Album Review – NONE / Damp Chill of Life (2019)

Accept hopelessness and succumb to the brand new opus by this unknown entity from the Pacific Northwest, picking apart your psyche and destroying your seasonal optimism with their oppressively bleak atmosphere.

Since their introduction in the spring of 2017, the enigmatic and anonymous Atmospheric/Depressive Black Metal unity NONE, from Portland, Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest, has crafted disturbing and emotionally devastating music that have garnered the attention of many listeners of the genre. After having released their self-titled debut opus on April 11, 2017, a thick shroud of piercing guitar interwoven with haunting synth and tortured vocals marching in despair towards an empty void, followed by Life Has Gone On Long Enough exactly one year later, on April 11, 2018, developing its tortured personality further, NONE returned this spring like clockwork, once again on April 11, with their brand new effort entitled Damp Chill of Life, weaving visionary soundscapes with first-class Depressive Black Metal, picking apart your psyche and destroying your seasonal optimism with their oppressively bleak atmosphere.

As atmospheric and cold as possible, the intro Fade embraces our souls in darkness and sets the tone for the chilling and piercing sounds from the 10-minute aria The Damp Chill of Life, with its Doom Metal beats, melodic riffs and an ethereal background generating the perfect ambience for NONE’s desperate, raspy gnarls. In other words, this is a lesson in Depressive Black Metal, alternating between serene passages and aggressive and dense riffs and vociferations, and flowing majestically until its melancholic ending. Cease also begins as mournful as a lonely morning in the woods, with the music exploding into the most Stygian form of Atmospheric Black Metal you can think of after four minutes of pure serenity, all enfolded by beautiful piano notes and anguished vocals, once again showcasing a touching finale and building an instant connection with You Did a Good Thing, where the uncanny duo delivers more of their delicate but at the same time crushing music. Furthermore, eerie voices exhale anger, despair and the feeling of loss, matching flawlessly with the music to give the listener a true and deep melancholic taste.

It’s Painless To Let Go brings forward another visceral hybrid of Depressive and Atmospheric Black Metal, this time infused with Doom Metal and Blackened Doom nuances, with the duo delivering somber guitar lines, creepy vocals and endless obscurity for our total delectation; whereas I Yearn to Feel is a semi-acoustic composition by NONE that will penetrate deep inside your mind and take you on a journey through vast, gelid lands, always led by crystalline piano notes and showcasing an enfolding aura. And the music remains bold and inspiring, reverberating into A Chance I’d Never Have, beginning with acoustic guitar lines and growing in intensity and fear until an avalanche of dark and crisp sounds invades our ears. In my humble opinion, this is perhaps NONE’s record with the most introspective vocal lines, and this song is the perfect depiction of that, with its second half offering the listener sheer melancholy and rage in the form of top-of-the-line contemporary Depressive Black Metal.

I’ve already had the utmost pleasure of reviewing all albums released by NONE since the inception of such idiosyncratic and mysterious entity, and I must tell you NONE definitely know how to transform all the solitude, wilderness and bitterly cold winds of the Pacific Northwest into the best Depressive and Atmospheric Black Metal one can ever imagine, showing how connected they are with their homeland. Hence, you should take a good listen at Damp Chill of Life in full on YouTube (especially on your loneliest days), and grab your copy of such bitterly cold album of extreme music from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp or webstore (by the way, you can find all special bundles of the album and all of NONE’s previous releases by clicking HERE), as well as from Apple Music, Amazon, CD Baby or Discogs. Simply succumb to the music by NONE, accept hopelessness, and finally realize you are no one, nowhere, and nothing.

Best moments of the album: The Damp Chill of Life and It’s Painless To Let Go.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Fade 1:58
2. The Damp Chill of Life 10:30
3. Cease 8:50
4. You Did a Good Thing 5:08
5. It’s Painless To Let Go 5:56
6. I Yearn to Feel 3:45
7. A Chance I’d Never Have 7:57

Band members
Anonymous – vocals
Anonymous – all instruments

Album Review – Illimitable Dolor / Leaden Light (2019)

Drenched in wistful melancholy and stirring up faded albeit rich memories, the new album by this Australian-based unity is an ambitious ode to all things doom.

New South Wales, Australia-based Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal masters Illimitable Dolor return from the darkest corners of the earth after the release of their highly acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2017 with a brand new opus, entitled Leaden Light, carrying on where they last left, drenched in wistful melancholy and stirring up faded albeit rich memories, sounding purer, more refined and clearer in expression than before, and lingering for long in your thoughts. With three artworks made by Indonesian artist Varises Otak for the CD, LP and box set editions exclusively (with layout and design by Australian graphic designer Pat Di Palo), this is an ambitious release from the band that features some of the best music in the style without overdoing any aspect of it.

Formed in 2014 in the city of Sydney, the band comprised of Stuart Prickett (The Slow Death, Horrisonous) on vocals, guitars and keyboards, Yonn McLaughlin (The Slow Death, Nazxul) on drums and vocals, Dan Garcia (The Slow Death) and Mat V. Newton (Lycanthia) on the guitars, Gavin Collison on bass and Guy Moore (Elysium) on keyboards offers in Leaden Light a raw and obscure fusion of Atmospheric Doom and Death Metal with Funeral Doom, influenced by renowned acts such as Skepticism, My Dying Bride and Officium Triste, beign therefore recommended for admirers of the music by Mournful Congregation, Evoken, The Slow Death and Chalice of Suffering, among others. Containing five extremely detailed, mournful and lengthy songs in the span of over 51 minutes, Leaden Light is not an easy listen for the lighthearted, consuming your soul and inviting you to join the band in darkness for all eternity.

A thunderstorm warns the listener darkness is upon us, before Yonn and his sluggish beats together with Guy’s phantasmagorical keys invade our senses in Armed He Brings The Dawn, showcasing a dense and heavy atmosphere from start to finish while Stuart vociferates the song’s Stygian words deeply through his low-tuned, devilish gnarls. In addition, the music flows like a river of darkness, alternating between purely somber passages and more piercing sounds, embracing the listener majestically. Soil She Bears is just as damned, lugubrious and grim as its predecessor, with deep and visceral roars permeating the air while the keys by Guy keep the ambience truly menacing. Not only that, Gavin and Yonn bring heaviness to the musicality with their respective punches and beats, dragging you to the bitterly cold crypts of the underworld.

Horses Pale And Four continues form where the previous song ended, building momentum and aiming at reaching a climatic stage where all instruments are darkly connected, with Stuart’s growls and the band’s guitar triumvirate’s riffs complementing each other flawlessly. Put differently, this is a bold and enfolding display of Atmospheric Doom Metal spiced up by Atmospheric Black Metal and Blackened Doom nuances tailored for lovers of the genre. Then the serene, melancholic piano notes by Guy kick off the utterly doomed and depressive Leaden Light Her Coils, where the guitars by Stuart, Dan and Mat feel like a delicate but extremely sharp knife cutting our skin deep. Furthermore, its rhythm is beyond mesmerizing, and you’ll certainly be stunned by how grandiose their music can be, with Guy, Gavin and Yonn giving a lecture in Doom Metal with their slow, steady and reverberating tones. And last but not least, the sextet morphs into their most Atmospheric Black Metal mode possible in 2.12.14 (which is probably the date when the band was created), feeling very touching, ethereal and melancholic, with Stuart, Dan and Mat taking the lead with their gentle guitar lines, followed by Yonn’s precise beats and all other grim instruments and sounds until the song’s dense ending.

As already mentioned, Leaden Light, available in full on Spotify, might not be an easy listen at first for the average rock fan, but it’s definitely worth a shot and a fantastic introduction to the world of modern-day Atmospheric Death and Doom Metal. Hence, you can show your true support to such idiosyncratic entity hailing from Australia by following them on Facebook, and specially by grabbing your copy of Leaden Light from several locations like their own BandCamp page or the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore in the US or in Europe (where by the way you can still purchase the beyond special gold CD or LP box sets), as well as from iTunes or Amazon. In other words, succumb to the most lugubrious side of music by joining Illimitable Dolor in pitch black darkness, and may your life be doomed forever and ever to the sound of their classy and extremely somber music.

Best moments of the album: Horses Pale And Four and Leaden Light Her Coils.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Armed He Brings The Dawn 14:50
2. Soil She Bears 7:18
3. Horses Pale And Four 11:27
4. Leaden Light Her Coils 13:48
5. 2.12.14 4:27

Band members
Stuart Prickett – guitars, vocals, keyboards
Dan Garcia – guitars
Mat V. Newton – guitars
Gavin Collison – bass
Guy Moore – keyboards
Yonn McLaughlin – drums

Album Review – Zohamah / Spread My Ashes (2019)

Combining Black, Death and Doom Metal into a poisonous but intoxicating musical cocktail, here comes an Israeli one-man band armed with his excellent debut opus.

An intentionally cryptic band from Israel, Black/Death Metal one-man army Zohamah, which by the way is an expression taken from the Kabbalah that translates to “darkness” or “pollution”, a form of evil that results in kilkull (or spiritual damage), is unleashing upon humanity its first full-length opus, entitled Spread My Ashes, a follow-up to its debut EP Manic Depression, from 2017. Combining Black, Death and Doom Metal into a poisonous but intoxicating musical cocktail, Zohamah is the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist H.M. (also known as Hezi Menashe), known from several underground bands such as Romuvos, Spawn of Evil and Immaterial, with all lyrics and music being written by H.M. himself, not to mention the album was also recorded, mixed and mastered by this extremely talented Israeli metaller.

The howling wind warns us all there’s a Black and Doom Metal storm coming in the opening track New World, generated by the somber gnarls and damned riffs blasted by H.M. It couldn’t have sounded more devilish than this, with H.M. also showcasing his superior skills on drums. Then presenting a Black Sabbath-inspired main riff enfolded in absolute obscurity we have The Darkness Whispers in My Ear, where H.M. is once again on fire with his demonic roars and intricate beats amidst the song’s hypnotizing rhythm; followed by Zohamah’s 2017 single, named Emptiness, a feast of the most Stygian sounds a man can generate, with his scorching hot guitar lines blending beautifully with his rumbling bass and rhythmic drumming, bringing elements from the most diverse types of classic extreme music.

A lot more Death Metal than its predecessors, which is noticeable specially on H.M.’s deeper growls, Black Cloud offers three minutes of aggressive, sulfurous and ruthless sounds, and the music remains vibrant and grim until all fades into pitch black darkness, whereas Broken Mirror is another demented creation by H.M., presenting the most melancholic and obscure elements from underground Blackened Doom. In addition, H.M. growls in a true desperate manner, bursting his lungs in pain and anguish. The title-track Spread My Ashes is a disturbing and harmonious instrumental bridge, building the ambience for the song that carries the name of the project, Zohamah, to captivate our senses with its neck-breaking pace, infernal screams and blast beats, ending the album on a high (and visceral) note just the way we love in underground extreme music.

It doesn’t really matter if you appreciate the works of one-man bands like Zohamah or not, you should definitely take a shot at Spread My Ashes, available in its entirety on on YouTube and on Spotify, as this is one of those albums that perfectly represent all the talent, hard work, passion for heavy music and darkness found in the independent Extreme Metal scene. If after listening to Spread My Ashes you feel like you want to know more about H.M. and his Zohamah (and I’m sure you will), you can follow him on Facebook, and show him your utmost support by purchasing the album from the Redefining Darkness Records’ BandCamp page, from the Hells Headbangers’ webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. In the end, H.M. is not only spreading his ashes on us with Zohamah’s brand new album, but also showing all of us fans of metal music that the Israeli scene is a lot more interesting, vibrant and obscure than we can imagine.

Best moments of the album: The Darkness Whispers in My Ear and Broken Mirror.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Redefining Darkness Records

Track listing
1. New World 4:45
2. The Darkness Whispers in My Ear 4:38
3. Emptiness 5:04
4. Black Cloud 3:14
5. Broken Mirror 4:29
6. Spread My Ashes 1:52
7. Zohamah 5:42

Band members
H.M. – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Inferitvm / The Grimoires (2019)

Telling the story of the most important forbidden grimoires in European history, this unrelenting Spanish horde delivers an excellent album that lives up to the legacy of 90’s Black Metal.

Born in 2014 in Palma de Mallorca, a resort city located in the Balearic Islands in Spain, with the task of putting the Black Metal genre back in the shadow of the glory it had in the 90’s, following the label from the most infamous bands from that period as a pure conceptual beginning (but excluding arsoning or murders, of course), the unstoppable horde that goes by the name of Inferitvm has just released their sophomore album The Grimoires, an epic story about black magic, esoteric rituals and all the different ingredients of true classical Black Metal. Having said that, do you accept the challenge of deciphering the forbidden texts that Inferitvm have brought back to life?

Comprised of lead singer and guitarist Sorcerer V., guitarist Lord Insekkton, bassist Aghanazzar and drummer Bârg, the sound of Inferitvm is fast, raw and full of details and reminiscences, with bands like Emperor and Immortal, as well as several other renowned groups from Norway, Sweden and Finland, serving as the main inspiration for their music. Telling the story of the most important forbidden grimoires in European history, delving into the miseries and stories behind them, The Grimoires is a manual for unraveling all the mysteries of black magic, with a symphonic twist that will undoubtedly surprise all who enjoy devilish and extreme music. Furthermore, the album brings some orchestral variations which end up helping to introduce your mind into the concept and imagery of an album that’s definitely “not for children”, with its lyrics being based on ancient spells and rituals of esoteric origin, and with the majority of recital refrains expressing the prayers and rituals in a solemn and profound way.

Phantasmagorical keys generate a menacing ambience in the intro Trithemius, before Inferitvm comes ripping with the sonic onrush titled Codex Gigas, where Sorcerer V. gnarls and vociferates like a demon to the imposing beast by Bârg. Moreover, Sorcerer v. and Lord Insekkton bring tons of melody to the musicality with their strings, flirting with contemporary Melodic Black Metal but still sounding loyal to the foundations of classic Black Metal. Then their devastation goes on in the sulfurous and pulverizing Clavicula Salomonis, a lecture in Black Metal bringing forward the most malevolent elements of the genre spearheaded by Sorcerer V.’s infernal roars; and there’s no time to breathe as the quartet keeps blasting sheer obscurity through their damned instruments in Malleus Maleficarum, with Sorcerer V. and Lord Insekkton being on fire with their riffs and solos throughout this marching mass of absolute evil.

In Goetia of Shadows, Bârg and Aghanazzar keep smashing their instruments nonstop, generating a reverberating sound that will please all fans of the genre, all balanced by some very harmonious guitar lines and hellish growls, whereas Galdabrök is another hammering, disturbing hymn of darkness by Inferitvm, with Bârg and his pounding drums dictating the rhythm while Sorcerer V. grasps the song’s obscure lyrics poetically and darkly. In Liber Lux Tenebris, the scorching hot guitars by Sorcerer V. and Lord Insekkton add a touch of Doom Metal to their already infernal music before all hell breaks loose in another feast of old school Black Metal perfect for banging your head in the name of evil. And De Occulta Philosophia is probably one of the most disturbing songs of the whole album (if not the most), where all band members make sure they extract the most Stygian sounds form their instruments, in special the band’s infernal guitar duo with their classic riffage, ending in the most unsettling way possible.

Fortunately for all fans of extreme music, the last batch of songs from The Grimoires is just as thrilling and vile as the rest of the album, starting with La Poule Noire, presenting a classic Scandinavian Black Metal sound with the band’s own twist, sounding as violent as it can be, with its guitar solos creating an interesting paradox with the blast beats delivered by Bârg; followed by De Praestigiis Daemonum, a truly infernal aria where Inferitvm crush our minds mercilessly with their brutality, darkness and rage, or in other words, a demolishing Black Metal tune with a few breaks and variations added to bring more taste and punch to the overall result. And last but not least, the cryptic vocalizations by Sorcerer V. ignite the closing tune titled De Umbrarum Regni, spiced up with nuances of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom, remaining creepy and atmospheric until its visceral ending.

In a nutshell, this unstoppable Spanish horde more than succeeds in telling stories of black magic and evil spells in the form of the pulverizing Black Metal found in The Grimoires (available for a full listen on Spotify), and in order to show your true support to those four horsemen of old school Black Metal simply follow them on Facebook, and grab your copy of such distinct album from their BandCamp page, from the Inverse Records webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. Because, in the end, all you have to do is let the ancient spells and malignancy flowing from the music by Inferitvm consume your soul, keeping the flame of 90’s Black Metal burning bright for decades to come.

Best moments of the album: Clavicula Salomonis, Malleus Maleficarum and De Occulta Philosophia.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Trithemius 1:23
2. Codex Gigas 5:46
3. Clavicula Salomonis 6:55
4. Malleus Maleficarum 6:23
5. Goetia of Shadows 6:04
6. Galdabrök 5:14
7. Liber Lux Tenebris 5:41
8. De Occulta Philosophia 7:01
9. La Poule Noire 5:30
10. De Praestigiis Daemonum 5:02
11. De Umbrarum Regni 5:26

Band members
Sorcerer V. – vocals, guitar
Lord Insekkton – guitar
Aghanazzar – bass
Bârg – drums

Album Review – Lucifera / La Caceria De Brujas (2019)

Let the witch hunt begin to the sound of the infernal fusion of Black and Thrash Metal by this dynamic duo hailing from Colombia.

Spawned in the year of 2008 in the ardent fires of Pasto, the capital of the department of Nariño, in southern Colombia as an hellish duo comprised of guitarist and composer David HellRazor and vocalist and bassist Alejandra Blasfemia, Black/Thrash Metal outfit Lucifera started off playing a much more conventional form of Thrash Metal,  evolving into an obscure and demonic beast over the years while still maintaining the amazing dynamism between the band’s founding members. Now in 2019 it’s time for Lucifera to spread darkness and blasphemy with their highly anticipated fourth full-length and defining opus entitled La Caceria De Brujas, or “the witch hunt” in English, taking the band’s primeval elements to a whole new level of malignancy, hatred and professionalism.

Featuring a menacing design by HR Design, from the band’s hometown Pasto, La Caceria De Brujas offers the listener a 39-minute tour de force of the blackest Thrash Metal and thrashiest Black Metal split into eight demonic hymns that will please all of fans of true, ancient metal music from the very depths of the underworld. In addition, one very interesting and important detail about La Caceria De Brujas is the fact that the lyrics for each song were pretty much written by a different musician. For instance, the lyrics for “Arde En Llamas” were written by Sonia Sepulchral (Bolivia), “Sigillum Diaboli” by Alicia Leguizamon (Colombia), “Sortilegio” by Clara Kultarr (Peru), “Ceremonia Secular” by the band’s own she-demon Alejandra Blasfemia (Colombia), “Pacto Pagano” by Melissa Kalissa (Colombia), “Conjuro” by Silvia Gers (Argentina), and “Brujeria” by Adriana Mavir (Mexico). However, that doesn’t mean the songs feel or sound disconnected; quite the contrary, the transition from song to song couldn’t have sound more powerful and thrilling, adding an extra touch of obscurity to the entire album thanks to this amazing “coven” of lyricists.

Evil distortions and vociferations kick off the blasphemous, belligerent and pulverizing opening track Arde En Llamas, with Alejandra sounding like the beast incarnate on vocals, while David blasts truly demonic sounds from his sonic weapons. Furthermore, you can sense influences from the early days of Slayer and classic Black Metal in their music, which obviously translates into absolute awesomeness. And Alejandra keeps growling manically (and always in Spanish, which makes her message even more obscure and vibrant) and punching us in the head with her rumbling bass in Sigillum Diaboli, a frantic hymn perfect for slamming into the circle pit to the vicious riffs by David, followed by Sortilegio, even more satanic than its predecessors by blending the speed and rawness of Thrash Metal with the darkness of Black Metal, with David sounding bestial not only with his riffs but also with his crushing beats. Then a disturbing intro taken from the original motion picture soundtrack “The Witch – Witch’s Coven” (written and performed by Mark Korven in 2015) ignites the demonic Ceremonia Secular, with the guitars by David bringing thunder to the overall musicality, resulting in a fantastic headbanging, mid-tempo display of extreme music that flows infernally until its grand finale.

Putting the pedal to the metal, the Colombian duo gets back to a more dissonant, high-octane sonority in Pacto Pagano, showcasing guitars and bass in absolute sync which consequently generates a menacing ambience for our total delight, while Alejandra’s gnarls sound like the utmost depiction of madness and rage. Following a similar disruptive, devilish pattern as its predecessor, Conjuro is another superb exhibit of underground Thrash and Black Metal by Alejandra and David, who by the way is on total fire with his riffs and solos, making our heads tremble in a demented way, which is also the case in Brujeria, where David demolishes his drums providing Alejandra all she needs to unleash her inner demon on vocals, or in other words, her anguished roars match flawlessly with the song’s thunderous bass and riffs from start to finish. Lastly, ending such sensational album the duo offers us Evocación Del Caos, by far the most obscure of all songs, an instrumental extravaganza presenting hints of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom forming a damned sonority that goes on and on, mesmerizing our senses and darkening our minds until all fades into a cold void, giving place to a final and very unsettling combination of evil sounds and tones.

In summary, let the witch hunt begin to the sound of the beyond fulminating fusion of Black and Thrash Metal found in La Caceria De Brujas, courtesy of this talented and electrifying Colombian duo, and in order to show all your support to Lucifera go check what they’re up to on Facebook and grab your copy of such blasphemous and sulfurous album from the Dunkelheit Produktionen’s BandCamp page or webstore in CD format or as a limited black, red or sun-amber edition LP (including an A2 format poster and a metalpin). Because if you’re going to be part of a coven, you better choose one where you can also enjoy first-class metal music, like what Lucifera more than succeeds in providing to our ears always avid for ass-kicking underground Extreme Metal.

Best moments of the album: Arde En Llamas, Sigillum Diaboli, Pacto Pagano and Conjuro.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Dunkelheit Produktionen

Track listing
1. Arde En Llamas 4:07
2. Sigillum Diaboli 4:25
3. Sortilegio 3:50
4. Ceremonia Secular 6:23
5. Pacto Pagano 3:49
6. Conjuro 4:10
7. Brujeria 5:04
8. Evocación Del Caos 6:51

Band members
Alejandra Blasfemia – vocals, bass
David HellRazor – guitars, all instruments