Album Review – Katharos XIII / Negativity (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Loud Rage Music

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

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

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Album Review – NONE / NONE (2017)

Over 30 minutes of chilling and despondent Atmospheric Black Metal by an unknown entity from the Pacific Northwest that will darkly guide you on a one-way journey to emptiness.

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Chilling and despondent music from the Pacific Northwest is what you’ll hear on the impressive self-titled debut album by Atmospheric/Depressive Black Metal entity NONE, a dark, full-bodied album comprised of three freakish and distinct arias interconnected by the howling winds of winter that will certainly appeal to fans of the Atmospheric Black Metal and DSBM (Depressive Suicidal Black Metal) crafted by groups such as Shining, ColdWorld and Woods of Desolation. Misery, grief, negativity and hopelessness are just a few elements you’ll find in the music by NONE, darkly guiding you on a one-way journey to emptiness.

Formed in 2015 in the city of Portland, Oregon, in the United States, NONE doesn’t carry its simple but enigmatic name in vain. NONE is precisely that, as they have no faces and they are no one, being solely represented by the depressive and obscure sounds emanating from each one of the three multi-layered compositions of the album. Drawing influences from the most melancholic and austere forms of atmospheric extreme music, NONE can quickly become the soundtrack to your most obscure moments, showing you that solitude might not be a bad solution at all in our lives.

In the opening track, simply titled Cold, the atmosphere couldn’t feel more sinister and disheartened, with its background noises and smooth piano notes quickly exploding into a puissant sonority. This is beautiful Depressive Black Metal perfect for closing your eyes and letting darkness embrace you, showcasing not only demonic gnarls and Stygian Black Metal guitars, but also presenting acoustic elements to bring some sort of false peace and hope to our hearts, before its climatic ending gets back to a somber and heavy sonority.

Also phantasmagorical and doomed, Wither is a direct sequel to its predecessor, with its Black Metal sounds invading our ears and souls while its hellish growls transpire hatred and despair. Furthermore, it brings forward a distressing aura found in the most sluggish and evil form of Blackened Doom, resulting in a delicate and at the same time powerful creation by NONE. And in Suffer we finally reach the stage where all songs together become one, displaying anguished screams and slow-paced Doom Metal beats complemented by the song’s serene piano notes. It’s a strong conclusion to the story being told by this arcane creature known as NONE, morphing into a desolated ending where it’s clear that darkness has taken full control of our souls.

You can purchase a digital copy of NONE at the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp, but if you prefer to actually put your hands on such bitterly cold and mordant Depressive Black Metal work-of-art, the album is available in a 6-panel digipack (limited to 300 copies) at the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ webstore, where you can also find it as a T-shirt + CD bundle, or at Discogs. You already know that after following the dark path crafted by this unknown entity there’s no way back, but I guess you really don’t care about the consequences. Quite the contrary, that’s exactly where you want to be.

Best moments of the album: Wither.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Cold 11:57
2. Wither 8:45
3. Suffer 9:25

Band members
*Information not available*

Album Review – netra / Ingrats (2017)

The perfect soundtrack for late-night walks in the city, combining several different music genres into a coherent stream of melancholy, might be right in front of your eyes thanks to this exquisite Urban Black Metal one-man project.

Conveying images of a grey, boring and anxiogenic city life, Urban Black Metal one-man project netra is back with its third full-length album, titled Ingrats (which is French for “ungrateful”), the perfect soundtrack for late-night walks in the city, combining several different music genres such as as Ambient Black Metal, Trip-Hop and moody Jazz into a coherent stream of melancholy. Put differently, the music found in Ingrats is highly recommended if you like bands such as Manes, Katatonia or Burzum, and especially if you are not afraid of trying something truly new that will defy your senses and concepts in music.

Formed in 2003 by French multi-instrumentalist Steven Le Moan in Quimper, a citiy located in Brittany, in northwestern France, netra relased its first album Mélancolie Urbaine in 2010. Two years later, netra presented the highly claustrophobic Sørbyen, recorded after relocating to the city of Gjøcik, Norway over the course of a year. In addition to that, netra also collaborated with Californian rap duo We’rewolves in 2013 to create a true hybrid between Hip-Hop and Black Metal, the EP entitled Dreading Consciousness. Now in 2017, after moving to Auckland, a major urban city in the North Island of New Zealand, Steven and his netra found the right amount of inspiration to mesmerize us once again with the Depressive Black Metal and all other styles featured in Ingrats.

Gimme a Break, a Jazz-like intro with smooth piano and drums, introduces us to the universe of Ingrats before netra’s Black Metal strikes the listener like a lightning bolt in Everything’s Fine, a dark and aggressive composition where netra manically grasps the song’s lyrics, full of anguish and hatred. Furthermore, the song’s hints of Jazz and Experimental Metal, together with some clean vocals by the end of the song, make the whole experience of listening to this multilayered tune even more exciting. In Underneath My Words the Ruins of Yours, an atmospheric instrumental composition alternating between electronic music and sheer obscurity, simply close your eyes and savor its musicality, getting ready for the melancholic Live with It, continuing with netra’s wicked fusion of sounds and proving music doesn’t need to be heavy and fast all the time to be good. Its clean vocals are spot-on, not to mention the gentle balance between acoustic guitars and electronic elements, turning it into one of the top moments of the album in my opinion.

Infinite Boredom, an instrumental bridge displaying gentle piano notes under the rain, paves a gray and sorrowful path for Don’t Keep Me Waiting, a movie-inspired creation by netra where all instruments keep growing in intensity, transpiring melancholy and pain. It’s interesting to notice how the saxophone somehow “replaces” the vocal parts, with a dense background voice, as well as the song’s Atmospheric Black Metal beats, enhancing the overall darkness present in the music. And A Genuinely Benevolent Man, the most modern and electronic of all songs, blends Trip-Hop with Atmospheric Black Metal elements, with the music gradually increasing in intensity while netra delivers only a few sick growls throughout the whole song.

The hopelessness depicted by netra continues in the ambient Paris or Me, where subtle hints of Jazz and Black Metal coming from the piano and guitar lines add to this instrumental piece a delicate feeling of solitude; whereas in Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve I highly recommend you keep your eyes closed and follow netra in his walk through the dark and hazy urban streets where he lives. Bringing forward Industrial and Alternative Metal nuances, there’s no sign of happiness in the music, which can be felt through his clean but acid vocals, reminding me of some of the best creations by Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. And how about a sweet Jazz song as the closing act of this unusual album? In Jusqu’au-boutiste you’ll not only get that, but netra also offers trenchant riffs and blast beats in the best Atmospheric Black Metal style imaginable, like a sharp razor cutting our ears while the piano parts give peace to our souls, ending the album in a tempestuous fashion.

Only time will tell what’s next for the urban black metaller netra, but based on the amazing quality of the music found in Ingrats (which you can listen in its entirety HERE), I don’t think he’ll take too long to release more of his eccentric music. While we all wait for another blast of his multilayered creations, let’s keep in touch with him through his Facebook page, and purchase a copy of Ingrats through the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp (where you can find some interesting bundles like the “ultimate netra listener pack”) or official webstore in a 4 panel sleeve with 8 page booklet format or as a fantastic package containing the CD, a 11cm x 7cm all-weather vinyl netra sticker and a beyond awesome “Urban Black Metal” shirt, as well as on Amazon and on CD Baby. Now please excuse, as I’m going for a lonely walk through the dark and cold shadows of Toronto, and I guess you know which album I’ll be listening to.

Best moments of the album: Everything’s Fine, Live with It and Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve.

Worst moments of the album: A Genuinely Benevolent Man.

Released in 2017 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Gimme a Break 1:19
2. Everything’s Fine 5:24
3. Underneath My Words the Ruins of Yours 3:36
4. Live with It 4:30
5. Infinite Boredom 0:44
6. Don’t Keep Me Waiting 4:32
7. A Genuinely Benevolent Man 5:10
8. Paris or Me 3:32
9. Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve 5:00
10. Jusqu’au-boutiste 5:55

Band members
netra – vocals, all instruments