Album Review – Vesperith / Vesperith (2019)

Experimental, intuitive, abstract and futuristic. This is Vesperith.

Experimental, intuitive, abstract and futuristic. That’s what an Experimental Black Metal one-woman project hailing from Tampere, a city in southern Finland, that goes by the stylish name of Vesperith, has to offer us all with her debut full-length self-titled opus, or as Vesperith herself likes to call it, get ready for an entrancing tempest of “Experimental Audiovisual Mysticism” made in Finland. Co-produced by Oranssi Pazuzu mainman Jun-His, Vesperith is the brainchild of the multi-talented artist Sariina Tani, former vocalist for Finnish Progressive Gothic/Melodic Doom Metal band Reveries End, who’s not only responsible for all vocals and instruments in her debut album, but also for the songwriting, lyrics, artwork and animation, channeling the depths of the cosmos through the vessel of Vesperith by fusing music, art and theosophy to otherworldly, meditatively chaotic dark radiance.

Musically speaking, Vesperith sounds and feels like a cosmic marriage of Björk meets Swans via Emperor (and we can also add Myrkur and Burzum to this amalgamation of sounds and styles), mirroring the duality of light and darkness and meditating on the nature of shadows and emptiness. “This new album is a pilgrimage to the abyss. For many, shadows, darkness, emptiness or void are almost stigmatized as evil, bad or scary, but I see almost heartbreaking beauty, light and infinity there,” explained the enchanting Sariina, with her album of entrancing astral visions certainly being one of the deepest, darkest things to come out of Finland in a while, therefore deserving your undivided attention. From atmospheric drones, screeching distortion and a mesmerizing ambience, Vesperith is a conduit for the chaotic harmony of the universe that suddenly blows up into euphoric phoenix-like waves of bewitching guitars and hypnotic siren song, inviting you to join Sariina in her whimsical journey to infinity.

Cosmic waves and hypnotizing sounds permeate the air from the very first second in the opening track The Magi (the “wise men” from the East who brought gifts to the infant Jesus), before the angelical vocalizations by Sariina penetrate deep inside our minds like a tribal initiation to her ethereal world, working as an extended and enfolding intro that keeps growing in intensity and “invades” the following tune titled Fractal Flesh, where you can sense Sariina is about to unleash an endless amount of energy at any moment. That indeed ends up happening after around two and a half minutes in an explosion of Black Metal infused with experimental and atmospheric elements, not to mention Sariina’s devilish harsh vocals, which feel bestial and obscure while at the same time very delicate. And if you thought the two previous songs were already very eccentric get ready for Refractions, a Dark Ambient extravaganza where Sariina’s anguished roars emerge from the very depths as a sonic refraction pierces our ears and minds beautifully.

The musical experimentation by Sariina gets even more unique in Valohämärä, which should translate from Finnish as “twilight”, once again presenting stunning vocal lines by our skillful one-woman army amidst an overdose of doom-ish beats and serene background keys and tones. Furthermore, she fires her most demonic, she-wolf gnarls of the entire album and in her mother tongue, just to make things even more enthralling, dismantling our senses with her visceral sonority. Then you better be prepared to have your senses heightened with over ten minutes of an incredible journey through the realms of Experimental Black Metal entitled Quintessence, where Sariina will put you on a fantastic trance with her gorgeous vocals in an enfolding atmosphere perfect for gazing at the stars before an onrush of blackened sounds and hellish growls crushes your soul mercilessly, slowing things down gradually until imposing sounds crush our psyche in the closing tune Solar Flood, perhaps the most atmospheric and gentle of all tracks in Vesperith. All we have to do is close our eyes, free our minds from any dark thoughts, and let Sariina mesmerize us all with her otherworldly vocal lines until the song’s very last second.

If there’s one amazing thing that truly stands out in Vesperith, that is certainly how the music flows smoothly and flawlessly from start to finish, building a very detailed connection from track to track and, consequently, making the album feel like one single (and wonderful) entity. For instance, last week, more precisely on November 8, Sariina hosted a pre-listening party at the Helsinki Ursa observatory, where the lights were dimmed and the album was listened in full in the dark while the attendants could also watch the stars (and the event was also streamed live through the Svart Records’ YouTube channel, by the way), showing how important it is to listen to Vesperith as a whole without interruptions and with the only “distraction” being the charming lights up in the sky. Also, with a lineup of cohorts gathered around her, Sariina will also take Vesperith to the stages of Europe during the end of this year and into 2020, and if you want to know more about such distinguished artist, her tour dates and other nice-to-know details, go check what she’s up to on Facebook and on Instagram, and obviously buy your copy of Vesperith from the project’s own BandCamp page, from the Svart Records’ webstore, or simply click HERE for all locations where you can purchase and listen to Vesperith. Sariina and her Vesperith are not only the future of atmospheric heavy music, but a journey though space and time that should definitely be appreciated by anyone who loves music, nature and the stars, especially if all at once.

Best moments of the album: Fractal Flesh and Quintessence.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Svart Records

Track listing
1. The Magi 8:57
2. Fractal Flesh 6:37
3. Refractions 4:35
4. Valohämärä 7:51
5. Quintessence 10:31
6. Solar Flood 7:27

Band members
Sariina Tani – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Ploughshare / Tellurian Insurgency EP (2019)

Feeding on sickness, unbearable oppression and blind violence, here comes a cryptic Australian entity armed with their new EP blending a multitude of influences and sounds.

Feeding on sickness, unbearable oppression and blind violence, the brand new EP by Australian Black/Death Metal entity Ploughshare, entitled Tellurian Insurgency, is the perfect depiction of what this mysterious band hailing from Canberra, the capital city of Australia, stands for, always with open arms to a multitude of influences and sounds in order to serve a greater purpose, including Black, Death and Doom Metal mixed with Noise Rock, Post-Punk and even the darkest offshoots of Electronic Ambient. In the span of a little over 22 minutes, Ploughshare’s music flows impetuous and intense in Tellurian Insurgency, the natural follow-up to their 2018 full-length album In Offal, Salvation. Recorded and mixed by Elliot Johnson and Max Napier, mastered by MR and featuring a demonic artwork and layout by JR and RT, the new EP by this idiosyncratic Australian horde is not an easy listen at all for the average rock and metal fan, representing the band’s urge to reinvent themselves and bring something new to the listener with each and every album released, never sticking to a specific formula or style. “Ploughshare is what occurs when we come together as a band,” they explain. “We all bring material, but this will always undergo transformation once we’re together. The music emerges contingently, and in a manner that makes it impossible to inscribe our wills into it. We might all contribute, but we are equally all caught up in it.”

Ominous noises explode into sheer madness and chaos in the opening track Abreactive Trance, a demented voyage through the realms of Experimental Black Metal showcasing enraged vociferations, slashing guitar riffs and infernal blast beats, reeking of desperation and insanity while the music lives up to the legacy of modern-day extreme music. Then we have Indistinguishable Beast of Flight, even more experimental and progressive, with its vocal lines reaching a new level of dementia while the guitars sound utterly strident and piercing, or in other words, get ready for a multi-layered metal extravaganza that will please all fans of heaviness and noise, all spiced up by the gargantuan amount of intricacy flowing from the song’s beats and fills. In Offal, Salvation (Andrew Nolan Re-mix), a new and interesting version for the title-track of their 2018 full-length opus, the disturbing and roaring sounds blasted by the band are infused with electronic noises and tones, resulting in a fresh and futuristic musical experiment albeit a the same time maintaining the core violence of the original version, whereas Xeno-Chemical Insider is another eerie composition by the band that sounds a lot more electronic than metal, which I’m pretty sure was the band’s original goal with this song.  Simply close your eyes and let Ploughshare penetrate deep inside your skin with their deranged screams, rhythmic beats and endless obscurity until the song’s ethereal and somber finale.

Although Ploughshare might be considered an unknown creature by many, you can still get in touch with them on Facebook to let them know how crazy you think their music is, and in order to show your support to this eccentric squad hailing from Australia you can purchase Tellurian Insurgency directly from their own BandCamp or from several other locations in different formats, such as the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp, the Brilliant Emperor Records’ BandCamp and Big Cartel, and the Metal Odyssey webstore. It’s almost impossible to predict what’s next for Ploughshare, but judging by the creativity and cohesiveness of the music found in the short but extremely diverse and thrilling Tellurian Insurgency, we can rest assured those metallers from Down Under won’t stop impressing us with their demented creations in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Indistinguishable Beast of Flight.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 I, Voidhanger Records/Brilliant Emperor Records/Night Rhythms Recordings

Track listing
1. Abreactive Trance 6:16
2. Indistinguishable Beast of Flight 5:22
3. In Offal, Salvation (Andrew Nolan Re-mix) 6:01
4. Xeno-Chemical Insider 4:10

Band members
*Information not available*

Guest musician
VS – additional vocals on “Abreactive Trance”

Album Review – Cthonica / Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction (2019)

Witness the spiritual putrefaction of men in the form of raw extreme music, crafted by a cryptic Venezuelan duo that refuses to compromise or embrace standardized creation processes.

On their horrific debut opus entitled Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction, Venezuelan Black/Death Metal abominable duo Cthonica unravels almost an hour of blood-curling and slithering ritualistic aural terror the hideousness and repulsiveness of which has rarely been seen on this earth, being highly recommended for admirers of the extreme noise blasted by bands such as Immolation, Incantation, Beherit, Blasphemy and Portal. Adding hazy layers of purulent noise and sepulchral dark ambient murk to further disfigure their abhorrent creation, Cthonica have crossed a new threshold in Extreme Metal, setting an entirely new standard of sonic inversion with their raw and decaying sound, and taking the glorification and worship of death and perversion to an entire new realm of conceptual and audial atrocity.

Formed in the Venezuelan capital city of Caracas in 2016 by D.V. on guitars, bass and drums, and H.K. on vocals, noise, electronics, lyrics and concept, rising from the ashes of a previous incarnation of the project called Okkvlt, Cthonica are a proudly home-recorded project, both for necessity due to the precarious access to resources in the tumultuous Venezuelan society and general lack of most things out there, and for the complete refusal by the core duo behind the project to compromise or embrace standardized and commonly acceptable creation processes. Mixed and mastered at Necrosound Studio, and featuring an artwork of surreal visual horror by Venezuelan artist Bryan Maita (BMS Illustration), Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction deals with the Tehomic-Typhonian metamorphosis of every man’s reason through what they call “spiritual putrefaction”, or the progressive human corruption through the guidelines of opprobrious disciplines and their teachings, and even if you have no idea of what this means at all simply (try to) relax and enjoy over 50 minutes of first-class, utterly raw extreme music made in Venezuela.

Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction, which seems to be purposely split into two distinct parts, kicks off with the first act of the first part, Act I: The Chalice, sounding dissonant, disruptive and absolutely raw from the very first second. H.K. begins growling deeply and rabidly in great Death Metal fashion while D.V. does an amazing job with both his flammable riffs and demonic blast beats, generating a Stygian ambience that will crawl deep inside your skin like a putrid maggot, resulting in a very atmospheric experiment with phantasmagorical passages and creepy intermissions to make things even more mesmerizing. Act II: The Lantern begins in full force, with the duo smashing our souls with their crude Experimental Black Metal, and you can easily sense the dirtiness flowing from D.V.’s devilish riffage throughout the entire song. Furthermore, H.K. continues to fire gargantuan harsh gnarls like a beast in this brutal and disturbing ode to the void, followed by Act III: The Verb, just as gruesome and infernal as its predecessors, with D.V. unleashing pure obscurity from his Doom Metal beats. Put differently, it can’t get any more experimental than this, and it’s quite impressive how they captivate our senses no matter how lengthy and intricate their wicked creations might be. In addition, H.K. not only is a talented growler, but his background noises and tones also add an extra touch of lunacy to the music.

Featuring guest vocalist İanzél (Ancient Blood, Desesperanza, Precaria), IV:I: Nor The Deadliest Disease Shall Be Compared With His Gift of Salvation… (the first aria of the second part of the album) brings to your ears a humongous wall of blackened sounds that will crush you like an insect, with the guitars and bass by D.V. reaching a new level of malignancy and sulfur while H.K. darkly vociferates the song’s words from the very depths of the underworld. This is the perfect sample of what underground extreme music is all about, which can also be said about V:II: … for the Children of he Who Lurks Beyond Shall Not Witness This Showcase Of Glory…, showcasing a tribal and absolutely vile intro led by the scorching hot riffs by D.V. while H.K. fires his trademark enraged roars. Its strident riffs and solos, together with its crisp beats, generate a dense and furious sonority that flows smoothly until everything ends in the most aggressive and demented way possible. Then prepare your ears and minds for another onrush of obscurity and dementia in the form of raw Black Metal by the duo titled VI:III: … Not As Those Who Served and Preached in Obeisance., where visceral blast beats and riffs permeate the air, blackening your heart and thoughts while H.K.’s vocals get more and more deranged as the music progresses. And to properly conclude the album we have the cinematic outro VII: Ω De Derelictum Domum Sacrorum with its eerie noises, haunting screeches and demonic tones, putting a beyond devilish ending to such unique opus.

This precious and raw gem of underground extreme music made in South America can be appreciated in full on Spotify, but of course if I were you I would show my utmost support to H.K. and D.V. by purchasing Typhomanteia: Sacred Triarchy of Spiritual Putrefaction from one of the several locations where the album is on sale, such as the Sentient Ruin Laboratories’ BandCamp or webstore (if you fancy the vinyl format), the Cagliary Records’ BandCamp or webstore (for admirers of the cassette format), from the Clavis Secretorvm’s BandCamp or webstore in digipack format or as a black or white double LP, and Apple Music. The current state of Venezuela might be precarious and extremely delicate, but even facing all types of barriers and against all odds Cthonica managed to deliver an excellent debut album for our total delectation, proving once again that the underground is (and will always be) alive and kicking, and that the spiritual putrefaction of the human being can be useful at least as fuel when Black Metal is the music in question.

Best moments of the album: Act II: The Lantern and IV:I: Nor The Deadliest Disease Shall Be Compared With His Gift of Salvation….

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Clavis Secretorvm/Sentient Ruin/Caligari Records

Track listing
1.  Act I: The Chalice 11:19
2. Act II: The Lantern 7:49
3. Act III: The Verb 9:51
4. IV:I: Nor The Deadliest Disease Shall Be Compared With His Gift of Salvation… 6:34
5. V:II: … for the Children of he Who Lurks Beyond Shall Not Witness This Showcase Of Glory… 8:20
6. VI:III: … Not As Those Who Served and Preached in Obeisance. 5:30
7. VII: Ω De Derelictum Domum Sacrorum 2:57

Band members
H.K. – vocals, noise, electronics
D.V. – guitars, bass, drums

Guest musician
İanzél – additional vocals on “IV:I: Nor The Deadliest Disease Shall Be Compared With His Gift of Salvation…”

Album Review – +MROME+ / Leech Ghetto (2019)

Back from the very depths of the underworld, this unrelenting Polish entity is ready to crush our senses once again with their unique and scorching fusion of Black and Death Metal.

Poland’s own Black and Death Metal entity +MROME+ is back from the very depths of the underworld once again to crush our senses with the unique and scorching music found in their brand new album, curiously entitled Leech Ghetto. Furthermore, as already expected (or not), the new opus by +MROME+, who are now a trio with the addition of bassist LV’s, joining lead singer and guitarist Key V and drummer P in their quest for heavy music, is completely different from their 2016 album Noetic Collision on the Roof of Hell, yet still maintaining the band’s core essence and heaviness intact, working as a new start and keeping the band’s unpredictability as high as possible just the way we like it. Add to all that the wicked guest vocals by Ataman Tolovy (from Polish Experimental Black Metal band Túrin Turambar) in a couple of songs, and there you have an excellent DYI album highly recommended for anyone in pursuit of innovative and obscure metal music.

And Key V’s guitar ignites the engines of the opening track titled The Rogue, a mid-tempo, dark tune perfect for breaking your neck headbanging, also presenting a very welcome thrashing twist that makes it truly incendiary. Then ominous riffs and beats permeate the air in Born Old, which sounds like a hybrid of the music by Obituary, Exodus and Celtic Frost, just to name a few (and to show you how insane it sounds), with P being very precise with his drums, delivering aggressiveness and intricacy and, therefore, being tailored for fans of 80’s and 90’s heavy music; whereas in Anti-Ant Entante the band ventures through more rockin’ lands, with Key V’s raspy roars and razor-edged riffs piercing your soul mercilessly while LV’s and P keep the ambience thunderous with their respective bass and drums.

Led by LV’s metallic bass, The City of Opax offers our ears a significantly different start from all previous songs, sounding melancholic and grim and evolving into a very introspective tune, proving once again how wide the band’s range is when crafting their music. Featuring the aforementioned Ataman Tolovy on guest vocals, the stylish Coffin Nail is a feast of demented sounds as if Faith No More went Death or Thrash Metal, showcasing steady beats, wicked gnarls and a feeling of insanity as its main ingredients, and the trio continues to extract Stygian sounds form their instruments in Detroit Daze, especially LV’s with his groovy jabs, bringing elements from Progressive Metal to their already multi-layered music. Not only that, all of its changes and variations turn it into a very pleasant musical journey that will certainly smash your mind in the best way possible.

Ataman Tolovy returns in Twarz Niezawisła (“an independent face” from Polish), perhaps the most obscure and atmospheric of all songs, blending the thunder from Doom Metal with alternative and experimental music, followed by Bellies Grow, and let me tell you that the second to last blast of insanity by +MROME+ sounds and feels it was taken straight from the 80’s while having a futuristic touch at the same time, as if The Misfits and Motörhead had a bastard son. Do you understand now how multi-layered their music is? Anyway, Key V’s riffs dictate the rhythm in this distinguished tune, while P doesn’t stop pounding his drums for our total delight. And LV’s and his rumbling bass kick off the closing tune Primordial Soup, bringing forward slashing guitars, in-your-face, straightforward beats and aggressive vocals, flowing darkly until its venomous ending. Can this song be added to the official soundtrack of a Tarantino movie, please?

In a nutshell, +MROME+’s Leech Ghetto, which will really soon (aka later this week) be available on Spotify for a full listen and on the band’s own BandCamp page for purchase, continues to pave the band’s path of madness while sounding fresh and distinct from their previous releases as already mentioned, leaving us all disoriented and eager for more of their music in the coming years. We just can’t predict at all what Key V and his bandmates have in mind for their next album, but again that’s the beauty of their music and I truly hope they never change while they keep always changing (if that makes any sense to you).

Best moments of the album: The Rogue, Coffin Nail and Detroit Daze.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 NRA

Track listing
1. The Rogue 5:11
2. Born Old 4:22
3. Anti-Ant Entante 3:56
4. The City of Opax 4:30
5. Coffin Nail 3:47
6. Detroit Daze 3:31
7. Twarz Niezawisła 3:56
8. Bellies Grow 4:03
9. Primordial Soup 5:38

Band members
Key V – vocals, guitar
LV’s – bass
P – drums

Guest musician
Ataman Tolovy – guest vocals on “Coffin Nail” and “Twarz Niezawisła”

Album Review – Dreams of the Drowned / Dreams of the Drowned I (2019)

Take a deep dive into the first full-length album by an Avantgarde Black Metal one-man band from France, representing years of wandering in a necromantic attempt to keep the fire of some long-time missing aesthetics burning.

Created in 2007 in Évreux, a commune in and the capital of the department of Eure, in the French region of Normandy, by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Camille (from Smohalla and Stagnant Waters), Avantgarde Black Metal one-man band Dreams of the Drowned is finally releasing its debut full-length album, entitled Dreams of the Drowned I, a decade after the band’s 2018 debut demo and the 2019 EP Thanatotropic Principle. A mixture of Experimental Black Metal and anarchist European witchcraft, the music by Dreams of the Drowned is highly inspired by bands such as Ved Buens Ende, Killing Joke, Emperor, Blind Idiot God and Amebix, with Dreams of the Drowned I representing years of wandering in a necromantic attempt to keep the fire of some long-time missing aesthetics burning, dealing with obscure topics such as atypical mental states, the feeling of loss, the forest, and the will to reclaim long-gone connections and power from within.

Ominous, atmospheric sounds emerge from the crypts of Hades in the instrumental piece Dream I, setting the tone for the hypnotizing Conciliabules, where Camille beings extracting Stygian notes from his guitar and bass while his vocal lines couldn’t sound more avantgarde and grim, resulting in a sonic onrush of modern and thrilling sounds and tones that will certainly disturb your peace of mind. The Revolutionary Dead is even more atmospheric and eccentric than its predecessor, with Camille going full Black Metal on vocals, roaring and gnarling deeply and rabidly, accompanied by the nonstop rumbling sounds coming from all instruments.

In Real and Sound, the main riff feels like a modern and obscure version of Judas Priest’s classic “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’”, sounding very experimental and not as Black Metal as the other songs, all boosted by its wicked lyrics (“Longtime buried, my inner worlds without ends / Real enough, as long as I feed them / Reconstruct through invisible, through immanence / Where seems there’s none, I’ll grow as many senses as I can / Swarms of wounders? Crutches of faith / I’ll wash my time of those void-filled taints which prevents it to be / Let the wanderers see what they chose to see / The wounded put the S back to their realities”), whereas in Vieilles Pierres our talented multi-instrumentalist Camille slows things down a bit and sounds as mournful and eerie as possible, delivering another solid fusion of Atmospheric Black Metal with more avantgarde nuances and ending in an ethereal way before he comes crushing with the pulverizing Avantgarde Black Metal hymn Crawl of Concretes,  with the poetic words flowing from his vocals exhaling madness, despair and rage (“Oh precious trees and smells, priceless paths / Sceneries of inner legends… / I knew it alive, I knew it lived in these green brown darknesses / Felt it swarming with earth magick, felt it thrive in harmonies”).

In the somber Danced there isn’t a single second of peace or hope for our minds, it’s just an avalanche of darkened sounds blasted by Camille in the form of Avantgarde Black Metal infused with hints of progressiveness, with a classic Black Metal aura generated by the song’s unstoppable blast beats. Furthermore, madness just keeps growing in intensity until the song’s slashing finale, setting the stage for Dreams of the Drowned’s cover version for the song Midnattskogens Sorte Kjerne, originally released by Norwegian Avantgarde Black Metal entity Dodheimsgard in their 1995 album Kronet Til Konge (take a listen at the original version HERE). Featuring Norwegian musician Aldrahn (from The Deathtrip, Thorns and Urarv) on vocals, who’s by the way the song’s original inceptor, this is indeed a sensational version by Dreams of the Drowned, maintaining the song’s primeval core essence intact while at the same time adding his own devilish twist, with the guitars sounding truly mesmerizing. And in order to give a proper conclusion to the album and beautifully close the circle, Camille offers the phantasmagorical instrumental outro Dream III, showcasing strident guitars and low-tuned bass that will pierce your skull ruthlessly.

In summary, although Avantgarde Black Metal might not be considered an easy listen to the average fan of rock and metal music, Dreams of the Drowned I ends up being a recommended album for newcomers to the cryptic and eccentric sounds of the genre, partially thanks to the above average production of the album, making its overall sound a lot clearer and sharp than several similar bands and albums, but mainly due to the undisputed creativity and dexterity presented by Camille in each and every song. Hence, don’t forget to pay Camille a visit on Facebook, subscribe to his YouTube channel, and if the music found in Dreams of the Drowned I truly soothes your soul and captivates your thoughts, you can purchase the album from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Duplicate Records’ BandCamp page. Because, in the end, by showing your utmost support now to Camille and his Dreams of the Drowned, I’m pretty sure he won’t take another ten years to provide our avid ears more of his dark and enthralling music.

Best moments of the album: The Revolutionary Dead and Crawl of Concretes.

Worst moments of the album: Vieilles Pierres.

Released in 2019 Drowned Anthems Records/Cult Of Nine Records

Track listing
1. Dream I (Instrumental) 3:05
2. Conciliabules 6:32
3. The Revolutionary Dead 5:47
4. Real and Sound 6:28
5. Vieilles Pierres 6:48
6. Crawl of Concretes 6:57
7. Danced 9:22
8. Midnattskogens Sorte Kjerne (Dodheimsgard cover) 8:43
9. Dream III (Instrumental) 3:08

Band members
Camille – vocals, guitars, bass, drums, synths

Guest musician
Aldrahn – vocals on “Midnattskogens Sorte Kjerne”

Album Review – Skognatt / Ancient Wisdom (2018)

An onrush of Atmospheric Black Metal as raw, aggressive, melodic and obscure as it can be, from the undergrounds of Bavaria directly into your mind.

Hailing from Augsburg, one of Germany’s oldest cities and the third-largest city in Bavaria (after Munich and Nuremberg), here comes a very sinister and interesting Atmospheric Black Metal/Dark Ambient one-man project named Skognatt, who have just unleashed darkness upon humanity with its first full-length album Ancient Wisdom. After its inception in 2016 by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Danijel Zambo, Skognatt released the demo Landscape of Ice in 2016, followed by the EP Stargazer that same year, and another EP in 2017 titled Ancient Wisdom (with the same name as the new album, but only featuring two songs that would be part of it). With the help of guest multi-instrumentalist Gerileme (Asche der Welten, Osteon) on drums and drum engineering, Skognatt brings forth six otherworldly compositions in Ancient Wisdom, living up to the legacy of old school Black Metal but with an atmospheric and eccentric twist added to its already somber musicality.

Macabre and phantasmagoric from the very beginning, the title-track Ancient Wisdom brings forward acoustic guitars intertwined with the sinister, demonic gnarls by Danijel, flowing smoothly and darkly until its ending, all boosted by creepy keyboard notes. Then the steady drumming by Gerileme and the lugubrious guitars by Danijel set the pace in Xibalbá, an Atmospheric Black Metal tune with hints of Symphonic Black Metal and Middle-Eastern nuances, with the vocals by Danijel sounding more devilish and anguished than before; followed by World Apart, showcasing blast beats and flammable guitar riffs (and therefore leaning towards traditional Black Metal), but also bringing a touch of delicacy and melancholy to the overall musicality through its very melodic and sometimes acoustic background sounds and tones.

More obscure than its predecessors, Thanatos alternates between melancholic, serene passages and more aggressive moments led by the piercing growls by Danijel, resulting in a Stygian hymn that can be used as the soundtrack to your deepest nightmares. As a matter of fact, Thanatos was the personification of death in Greek mythology, just to give you a sense of how dark this song is. Moving on with the album, Dark Star presents a movie-inspired intro before an explosion of demonic sounds fills the air, with Gerileme sounding even more infernal on drums in a hybrid of contemporary Ambient and Experimental Black Metal. Put differently, it can’t get any more underground, visceral and crude than this, being definitely not recommended for the lighthearted. And closing this somber and eccentric album we have another blast of Atmospheric Black Metal titled Fallen, spiced up by peculiar and whimsical sounds and featuring spoken words taken from the work of English nobleman and poet Lord Byron (1788 – 1824). Furthermore, Danijel does a great job both on keyboards and on vocals, enhancing the song’s already distinct taste until the music fades into a mesmerizing semi-acoustic outro.

In summary, Ancient Wisdom (which by the way is available for a full listen on YouTube) is one of those albums of extreme music that perfectly represent what underground metal is all about, being raw, aggressive, melodic and obscure, all at the same time. And in order to show your true support to an independent act like Skognatt, you can pay a visit to the band’s official Facebook page, and of course buy your copy of Ancient Wisdom from its BandCamp page, keeping the fires of Black Metal burning inside the dark soul of Mr. Danijel Zambo and his devilish alter ego Skognatt for years and years to come.

Best moments of the album: Xibalbá and Thanatos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Ancient Wisdom 5:17
2. Xibalbá 5:09
3. World Apart 5:19
4. Thanatos 4:06
5. Dark Star 4:50
6. Fallen + Outro 6:44

Band members
Danijel Zambo – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Gerileme – drums

Album Review – Lorn / Arrayed Claws EP (2017)

Absorb the music found in these five psychotic and violent tracks that perfectly exemplify the evolutionary path within the Black Metal field of this distinguished Italian act.

Rating4

ivr068-lorn-arrayed-clawsListening to the distinct Atmospheric Black Metal engendered by Italian act Lorn feels like contemplating a work-of-art by an unusual modern artist, changing its shape and form and bringing forward new elements every single time you stare at it. Since its inception in 1999, this alluring band from Bolzano, a city in the South Tyrol province of north Italy, has been delivering fresh extreme music through each of their releases, never sounding repetitive or outdated, with their full-length albums Towards the Abyss of Disease (2006) and Subconscious Metamorphosis (2013) being their most remarkable works to date. Now in 2017 Lorn are back with Arrayed Claws, featuring five psychotic and violent tracks that perfectly exemplify their evolutionary path within the Black Metal field.

If Subconscious Metamorhposis was a transcendental mental journey towards a superior illumination, Lorn’s new album looks more like a physical and desperate odyssey through the regions of Death. Featuring a classy artwork by Joel Angelini, with layout by Francesco Gemelli, Arrayed Claws will disturb your peace of mind and take you to the obscure realms of Black Metal crafted by the band’s mastermind and multi-instrumentalist Radok. Hence, as aforementioned, every instance you take a listen at such eccentric album you’ll experience different thoughts and feelings, expanding your comprehension of what atmospheric and experimental Extreme Metal truly means and, therefore, enhancing your personal connection with the music by Lorn.

In the opening track, titled Disharmonic Feticism, a darkened squall of brutal, extreme music hits the listener without clemency, with drummer Chimsicrin discharging furious old school Black Metal beats while Radok showcases all his skills through his demonic gnarls and violent riffs, not to mention its beautifully deranged lyrics (“Intentness / So that nothing correspond / Intolerance to the familiar / Orgasmic grate”). After seven minutes of violence and chaos, we face four minutes of a calm atmospheric passage to help soothe our souls, proving how broad extreme music can be when played by the right musicians (especially if they come from Italy, a never-ending source of high-end Black Metal). Their sonic demolition comes back in full force in Abstract Trap, a solid display of vicious Black Metal with Death and Thrash Metal elements to make it more aggressive, with the beastly Chimsicrin being unstoppable behind his drums. Moreover, this is another long, complex composition where again after around four minutes the band transitions their demonic music to an eerie atmospheric aura, with the difference that this time their havoc returns after a short while, with its ending feeling phantasmagorical and menacing.

lorn-logoThe second half of the album offers the listener two songs inspired by the Altaian mythology, two stages of a purification path. Toybodim, a fast-paced high-end Extreme Metal tune showcasing possessed vocals and lancinating guitars, takes its name from a black lake where the souls of the dead fall and become larvae, which can be seen in its lyrics (“Miserable parasite / The cowardice inebriates your void / Hidden haughtiness / Allegiance frighten your rotten self”); whereas the multilayered instrumental tune Sut-aq-Kol is a lake of milk where the spirits get purified, a placenta for the newborns. Musically speaking, this second song continues with Lorn’s banquet of extreme music, once again displaying boisterous drums and infernal riffs. The transition between these two tracks to the atmospheric Aus Nebel Turm aims at leaving the listener beaten and dismayed, with the painful awareness of being only a grain of nothing, lost in mysterious fogs of existence. After an ominous beginning, the music flows into pure Atmospheric and Experimental Black Metal, concluding the transcendental journey proposed by Lorn.

As mentioned in the beginning of this review, every single time you take a listen at the music by Lorn you’ll feel different,  and if you’re ready to experience and absorb all the fury and complexity found in the five tracks of Arrayed Claws, simply go to the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp or webstore to purchase this unconventional and extremely well-crafted album. Also, in order to keep track of such distinguished act, go visit Lorn’s Facebook page to know more about their music, future releases and other details, as a project like this that can unite harmony and disharmony in such enthralling way definitely deserves our sincere support.

Best moments of the album: Disharmonic Feticism and Toybodim.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing
1. Disharmonic Feticism 10:53
2. Abstract Trap 10:15
3. Toybodim 6:09
4. Sut-aq-Kol 4:56
5. Aus Nebel Turm 6:40

Band members
Radok – guitars, bass, synth, vocals
Chimsicrin – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Dr. Mikannibal

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I Live You Die… Your Life Is Mine.

If you have never, ever in your entire life heard or seen anything about the jaw-dropping, unusual and skillful Japanese goddess Dr. Mikannibal, the saxophonist and also one of the lead singers of Japanese Black/Avant-garde Metal band Sigh, you have no idea of what you’re missing. Furthermore, nothing that you will read here is fake or made-up: Dr. Mikannibal is indeed a unique performer, and I dare you to find another woman so off-the-wall in music, even in the weird realms of Industrial, Gothic and especially Black Metal. For instance, she loves to record topless, has the odd habit of eating bugs and also enjoys drinking blood. Do I need to say more?

Our electrifying Asian bombshell, whose real name is Mika, was born on January 23 in the city of Sendai-shi (also known as “The City of Trees”) in Miyagi, Japan, located around 350km from the capital Tokyo. Dr. Mikannibal is in a long-term relationship with Sigh’s multi-instrumentalist Mirai Kawashima, and although she suffered a miscarriage three months into pregnancy in 2013, in April 2014 she took the stage of Inferno Metal Festival in Oslo, Norway with “Baby’s In Here” written on her belly. I wasn’t able to find anything online about her pregnancy after that, so let’s hope that Mika and Mirai had a beautiful and healthy baby together (which is probably what happened) and are now enjoying their parenthood to the sound of heavy music.

Named one of the “Sexiest Women in Metal” by Revolver Magazine, the title of Doctor added to her stage moniker is far from being jest, as she actually has a Ph.D. in Physics and still finds time to work as a scientist at her home in Florida, where she has been living for the past few years. Moreover, as expected from any person that’s at the same time a scientist and a black metaller, Dr. Mikannibal is an atheist (as well as Mirai) and whenever the band sings about hell she said in one of her interviews there’s no religious meaning behind it. It’s simply a representation of human beings going through hell, describing those scenes through their music.

In regards to her music career, Dr. Mikannibal has been playing saxophone since she was 12, being able to play the alto, tenor and baritone sax. She mentioned all are basically the same and she does that to add more power to her music, although it’s more difficult than playing just the alto sax, of course. However, it wasn’t until she joined Sigh that she took her saxophone skills to the studio and on stage at a professional level. Before joining Sigh she only did vocals for different metal bands, starting with indie Japanese Melodic Death Metal band 29Jaguar, with whom she recorded the demo 29Anger in 2005, and Japanese Melodic Thrash/Death Metal band Providence.

Dr. Mikannibal joined Sigh back in 2007, having already recorded with the band the following albums: A Tribute to Venom EP (2008), Scenes from Hell (2010), The Curse of Izanagi EP (2010), the split album Swine of Hades (2011), and more recently In Somniphobia (2012) and Graveward (2015). From all those releases, the only one where our metal goddess did not play her wicked saxophone was A Tribute to Venom EP, but anyway you can enjoy her devilish vocals in their cover versions for the Black Metal classics Countess Bathory, Black Metal and Witching Hour. If you want to take a listen at her skills as both the vocalist and saxophonist of Sigh, a few suggested songs are The Transfiguration Fear and Far Beneath The In-Between and Kaedit Nos Pestis. Lastly, after joining Sigh, she recorded sax and vocals in the 2012 album Worms in the Keys by international Avant-garde Rock/Metal project Self Spiller, and was also a guest saxophonist on track Boiled In Hell Broth & Grave Dust (Intro), from the 2010 album The Murder of Jesus the Jew by British Experimental Black Metal band The Meads of Asphodel, and on A Hollow Bridge, from the album Mapping the Moment with the Logic of Dreams by Romanian Progressive Black Metal band Bloodway. Apart from her career as a musician, Dr. Mikannibal has also ventured in the world of journalism, as for example her interview with At The Gates vocalist Tomas Lindberg in Tokyo, Japan on August 5, 2013 for the Metal Moment podcast.

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Nonetheless, it’s on stage that our sexy doctor really stands out with her lunatic vocals and ferocious saxophone playing, her skimpy lingerie, skirts and dresses, and of course her infamous hot wax bath. Yes, that’s exactly what you have in your mind right now: a provocative Asian girl dripping hot wax from candles all over her attractive body. Check these two videos on YouTube where you’ll be able to see how wild she’s when performing live, the first playing the song The Soul Grave at the Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Netherlands in 2013, and the second showing you her hot wax bath in Taipei, Taiwan in 2012. Isn’t she adorable?

But wait, there’s still a lot more to talk about our fearless diva: because she loves her pet lizards (or geckos) and was really curious as to what they eat, she started to gather more details on bug eating, attended a “bug eating party”, learned how to cook roaches and other bugs properly and voilà! There you have a sexy bug-eater woman! Oddly enough, Dr. Mikannibal explained everything she does is not meant to attract the attention of anyone. “Some people in Japan traditionally eat grasshoppers. In the north part of Japan, they eat bugs. Eating roaches is not common in Japan, but it’s not a made-up story to get attention. It’s just something I do.”, she said in one of her interviews.

Obviously, a woman like that who wears such revealing see-through outfits in front of thousands of people has to be very comfortable with her body and appearance. She accepts and embraces the idea of being a sex symbol, although such distinction is not one of her main goals in her career. Not only that, when our gorgeous Nipponese lady is about to record anything new at home or in the studio, she does that topless (yes, topless!), simply due to the fact that she feels a lot more comfortable that way as she hates sweating a lot. She mentioned once the first thing she does when she arrives home is taking off her clothes, saying that’s something very natural and pleasant for her. Well, I guess there are lots of people who would love to attend the recording sessions by Sigh and be face-to-face in the studio with Dr. Mikannibal, one of the most remarkable women in contemporary Extreme Metal.

Dr. Mikannibal’s Official Facebook page
Dr. Mikannibal’s Official Twitter
Sigh’s Official Facebook page
Sigh’s Official Twitter 

“I do wear sexy costumes, and I wear less clothes than other metal chicks do in other bands. It’s not intentional. I don’t do it to try and get attention from men. I just wear what I wear because I like it. I love myself, my looks and my body, and I like to show it off on stage. That’s the whole idea.”  – Dr. Mikannibal