Album Review – Of Blood and Mercury / Strangers EP (2019)

A mix of dark pop and ambient with a touch of synthetic nostalgia from the 80’s by a Belgian duo not afraid of experimenting in music, giving us a hint of the concepts and harmonies to be feature on their upcoming album.

Brought into being in early 2018 in the city of Brussles, Belgium by vocalist Michelle Nocon (Bathsheba, Leviathan Speaks, Serpentcult) and multi-instrumentalist Olivier Lomer-Wilbers (Enthroned, Emptiness), Avantgarde Noir Rock project Of Blood and Mercury is not exactly what you would expect from the fusion of musicians from extreme bands such as Enthroned, Pro-Pain, Bathsheba and Luminance, but that doesn’t mean it’s bland or tiresome. Quite the contrary, Michele and Olivier united their creativity in a very vibrant and detailed musical style that could be described as a mix of dark pop and ambient, with a touch of synthetic nostalgia from the 80’s.

As their first adventure through the realms of avantgarde music, Of Blood and Mercury are offering us an enthralling three-track EP entitled Strangers, where Michelle and Olivier have the support of bassist David Alexandre Parquier (Soror Dolorosa) and drummer Jonas Sanders (Emptiness, Pro-Pain, Resistance) to help them give life to their very distinct project. Recorded in the caves of Brussels’ Blackout Studio, Strangers gives us a hint of the concepts and harmonies to be feature on their upcoming 10-track album to be released later this year, with the melancholic tones of Michelle’s voice beautifully depicting the shadows that drag the wonders of nature to their ghostly forms.

Ethereal sounds ignite the mesmerizing Strangers, where you’ll feel embraced by Michelle’s vocals while she recites the song’s delicate lyrics (“Dusty words remember a lost cause. A feeling of a half filled glass. / Half poison, half wine. Half bitter, half sweet. some steel, some rust, some victory.”), with an extra kick added to the musicality thanks to the precise drums by Jonas. Put differently, this is first-class heavier-than-usual Dark Wave penetrating deep inside our hearts and souls, which can also be said about the following tune, titled Walk the Void. Inspired by the music by Enya with a modern and melodic twist, Of Blood and Mercury generate an inebriating atmosphere throughout the entire song, with Olivier doing a great job with his precise synths, keys and guitar lines. Furthermore, it definitely feels like the band is focusing a lot more on the atmosphere rather than just the music itself, and the final result is absolutely amazing. And the last song of the EP, Estranged, continues to wander between the rock and electronic genres in a very gentle and serene way, inviting us to simply close our eyes and let the hypnotic waves crafted by Michelle, Oliver & Co. invade our senses. In addition, some people like to say that musicians are the poets of the modern era we’re living in, and based on the lyrics crafted by Michelle and Olivier that statement is more than valid (“Estranged one, / in oblivion. / The disease has sprung. / Wear the mask of Cain. / ‘Cause you still haven’t learned to exit the dream. / And I still feel numb. / Estranged one, / in oblivion. / Symmetry gone wrong, / infertile brain.”).

You can listen to the entire EP by clicking HERE, follow Of Blood and Mercury on Facebook, and obviously show your true support to this classy duo by purchasing their debut EP directly from their BandCamp page. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for a full-bodied release by Of Blood and Mercury in the coming months, and until then we can satisfy our craving by listening to Strangers again, again and again, letting our minds and souls wander through the vast and melancholic lands of the distinct Avantgarde Noir Rock presented to us all by two veterans of the extreme music scene who are not afraid of experimenting and trying new musical styles and nuances, consequently showing the world there is no such thing as boundaries for musicians who create music from the bottom of their hearts.

Best moments of the album: Strangers.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Strangers 4:54
2. Walk the Void 5:30
3. Estranged 4:58

Band members
Michelle Nocon – vocals, programming
Olivier Lomer-Wilbers – guitars, keyboards, programming

Guest musicians
David Alexandre Parquier – bass
Jonas Sanders – drums, percussion

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 – Cult of Erinyes / Tiberivs (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: First of Men.

Released in 2017 Caverna Abismal Records

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

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

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