Album Review – Crest of Darkness / The God of Flesh (2019)

Expanding the feel, variety and depth of their music, this talented Norwegian Black Metal triumvirate returns with the heaviest, darkest and most personal album of their undisputed career.

Conceived in the mid-nineties, more specifically in 1993 in the city of Gjøvik, Norway, by vocalist and bassist Ingar Amlien (when his former band Conception was still at its peak) as a product of his own passion for sheer sonic brutality and devotion to the satanic ideology according to Anton LaVeys’ Church Of Satan and the Satanic Bible, Atmospheric Black Metal horde Crest of Darkness is moving barriers once again with their brand new opus entitled The God of Flesh, expanding the feel, variety and depth of their music, showing to be as much at home with more progressive elements as they are with the aggressive and dark, brutal side for which they are known. In other words, get ready to be dragged into pitch black darkness together with Ingar and his henchmen Rebo on the guitar and Berhard on drums, not to mention guest keyboardist Kristian Wentzel, in what’s the heaviest, darkest and most personal album of their undisputed career.

Arising from the pits of the underworld, Crest of Darkness comes crushing our souls in the opening track The God Of Flesh, where Bernhard slams his drums manically while Ingar fires his Marduk-inspired demonic gnarls in a pulverizing display of old school Norwegian Black Metal. If that wasn’t infernal enough to you, it’s time for The Child With No Head with its psychological, grim lyrics (“Forever it will stay alive / This memory has filled your mind / Forever it will drag you down / Happiness you cannot find / Selfish greed / Religious views / The smell of death / The sound of thunder / No forgiveness / No escape / You know your world is going under”) and absolute madness and evil flowing form all instruments, with Rebo sounding absurdly satanic with his riffs, followed by Endless Night, where a more serene, melancholic atmosphere evolves into a mid-tempo ode to hell, with Ingar vociferating the song’s Stygian words while blasting his bass chords at the same time, supported by the rhythmic drumming by Bernhard.

Enhancing their aggressiveness and rage with hints of classic Death Metal added to their crude sonority, the band offers our avid ears the disturbing The Spawn Of Seth, a full-bodied creation by Crest of Darkness where Rebo is on fire with his razor-edged riffs and solos, also showcasing demonic lyrics as usual (“You are walking the earth as ghosts / You are flying on the wings of death / The human race is your host / As long as it can draw its breath”). And blending obscurity, despair and sadness, the ominous and ethereal bridge Forgotten sets the tone for Euthanasia, a neck-breaking, incendiary tune led by Rebo’s hellish riffage and Ingar’s Mephistophelian roars, perfect for headbanging like a bastard in the name of darkness while Bernhard’s pounding drums bring even more violence to the overall result.

Blood, one of their most ritualistic creations, unites the sulfurous blasphemy of traditional Black Metal with the harmony and intricacy of contemporary Melodic Black Metal, sounding at times as if Danzig went full extreme, and after such fantastic exhibit of extreme music, the trio from the netherworld captivates our senses once again with more of their Stygian sounds in Godless Evil Eyes, again presenting cutting riffs and classic beats, spearheaded by Ingar and his harsh, crude vocals. And last but not least, Salvation In Hell brings forward total devastation in the form of Black Metal to close the album on a high note, with all band members demolishing their instruments mercilessly, in special Bernhard with his complex and vibrant beats and fills.

Featuring a profane, cult-like artwork by Norwegian artist Marius Engli Andersson, and available for a full listen on Spotify, The God of Flesh is another solid and electrifying pillar in the satanic church of Black Metal built by Ingar and his horde, pointing to a bright (or maybe I should say completely dark) future for such amazing traditional act hailing from the beautiful Norway. Hence, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, to purchase The God of Flesh from their own BandCamp page (or click HERE for all options available in the market), and also to watch Ingar himself commenting about each and every track from the album on YouTube in three special videos (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). In a nutshell, darkness is upon us thanks to this bloodthirsty, talented Norwegian triumvirate, proving once and for all evil always results in first-class extreme music.

Best moments of the album: The Child With No Head, The Spawn Of Seth and Blood.

Worst moments of the album: Endless Night.

Released in 2019 My Kingdom Music

Track listing
1. The God Of Flesh 4:08
2. The Child With No Head 3:45
3. Endless Night 5:40
4. The Spawn Of Seth 5:06
5. Forgotten 2:24
6. Euthanasia 5:40
7. Blood 4:13
8. Godless Evil Eyes 3:47
9. Salvation In Hell 4:24

Band members
Ingar Amlien – vocals, bass
Rebo – lead and rhythm guitar
Bernhard – drums

Guest musician
Kristian Wentzel – keyboards

Album Review – Embrace of Disharmony / De Rervm Natvra (2019)

A fascinating journey into a unique universe of Avantgarde and Progressive Dark Metal inspired by Lucretio’s poem “De Rervm Natvra” and his theory of the universe.

Forged in in 2006 the fires of Rome, the stunning capital of Italy, with the main goal of uniting the dark and epic Progressive Metal from bands like Symphony X and Adagio with elements from Avantgarde and Extreme Metal bands, as well as several orchestral outfits like Arcturus, Winds, Dimmu Borgir and Opeth, Avantgarde/Progressive Dark Metal four-piece act Embrace of Disharmony is unleashing upon humanity their second full-length opus entitled De Rervm Natvra, which translates from Latin as “on the nature of things”, a fascinating journey into a unique musical universe thoroughly crafted by the band, released five years after their debut album Humananke.

Comprised of Gloria Zanotti on vocals, Matteo Salvarezza on guitars, vocals and programming, Leonardo Barcaroli on bass and Emiliano Cantiano on drums, Embrace of Disharmony offer in De Rervm Natvra a more extreme sonority but at the same time a more avantgarde-ish aura than in Humananke, all spiced up by idiosyncratic electronic elements and a superb lyrical theme based on Lucretio’s poem “De Rervm Natvra” and his theory of the universe. Recorded at Dis(agio)harmony Studios and Hombre Lobo Studios with Valerio Fisik, mixed by Giuseppe Orlando at Outer Sound Studio, and mastered by Mika Jussila at Finnvox Studios, De Rervm Natvra is not only a great piece of symphonic and extreme music, but the overall sound quality of the album is simply outstanding, showing how focused all band members and their entire crew were, delivering first-class metal music to our avid ears.

Ethereal sounds permeate the air in Prohoemivm (“introduction”), with the voices in the background delivering a cryptic message and warming up our senses for the symphonic and eerie Lavdatio Epicvri (“in praise of Epicurus”), where Matteo’s background effects and keys grow in intensity until the entire band begins smashing their instruments furiously. And their venomous version of Dream Theater mixed with Cradle of Filth goes on in the 10-minute extravaganza De Primordiis Rervm (“the beginning”), a darker version of Epic Symphonic Metal with Emiliano sounding like a stone crusher on drums and with the delicate vocals by Gloria bringing more finesse to the overall musicality in an avalanche of symphonic sounds, somber passages, operatic choirs and tons of progressiveness. Then the quartet continues to mesmerize us with their dark symphony in De Motv Primordiorvm Rervm (“the beginning of motion”), another thrilling Progressive Dark Metal voyage where Matteo delivers crisp riffs while Leonardo and Emiliano are at the same time utterly progressive and vicious with their bass and drums, respectively; followed by De Infinitate Orbivm (“infinite worlds”), where a wicked intro evolves into a feast of Symphonic Metal showcasing classic piano notes, a menacing atmosphere and rumbling bass lines. Furthermore, Gloria and Matteo make a very dynamic and inspired vocal duo, while Emiliano doesn’t stop hammering his drums for our total delight.

In De Mortalitate Animae (“the immortality of the soul”), it’s impressive how the quartet is capable of transforming their music into some sort of theater or movie score, showcasing acoustic guitars while the smooth vocals by Gloria dictate the song’s rhythm, also presenting explosions of extreme music intertwined with pure Progressive Metal. De Pavore Mortis (“the terror of death”) starts in a whimsical and serene manner, again morphing into a Symphonic Metal party where Emiliano sounds even more brutal than before on drums while Gloria delivers some vicious, heavier-than-usual vocal lines to add an extra kick to the song; whereas in the Symphonic and Progressive Metal aria De Captionibvs Amoris (“the seizures of love”) we’re treated to the most wicked intro of the entire album, a dark and futuristic start that gets even more enfolding thanks to Matteo’s keys and Emiliano’s beats, generating a powerful paradox of sounds and setting the stage for Gloria to shine on vocals. Lastly we have De Formatione Orbis (“the formation of the world”), the most experimental of all songs, closing the album in a really distinct way and even flirting with Folk Metal at times. Once again presenting a potent vocal duet by Gloria and Matteo and flammable guitar riffs, the music gets a bit too atmospheric compared to the rest of the album, but nothing that could harm its overall electricity and impact.

In summary, Embrace of Disharmony are more than ready to take your hand and guide you through their whimsical and captivating world of heavy music in De Rervm Natvra, which is by the way available for a full listen on Spotify, and in order to show them your true support and admiration go check what they’re up to on Facebook, and purchase De Rervm Natvra from their BandCamp page, Apple Music, Amazon, or Discogs, or click HERE for all available options in the market. Gloria, Matteo, Leonardo and Emiliano might be only four musicians, but what they offer our ears in their new album sounds like if they were a full-bodied orchestra, meaning that not only they’re extremely talented and passionate about what they do, but also that fortunately for all of us we’ll be hearing from Embrace of Disharmony for many years to come, embellishing the airwaves with their fusion of the past, present and future of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: De Primordiis Rervm, De Infinitate Orbivm and De Captionibvs Amoris.

Worst moments of the album: De Formatione Orbis.

Released in 2019 My Kingdom Music

Track listing
1. Prohoemivm / Lavdatio Epicvri 3:05
2. De Primordiis Rervm 9:54
3. De Motv Primordiorvm Rervm 5:58
4. De Infinitate Orbivm 6:53
5. De Mortalitate Animae 7:53
6. De Pavore Mortis 6:12
7. De Captionibvs Amoris 5:53
8. De Formatione Orbis 8:14

Band members
Gloria Zanotti – vocals
Matteo Salvarezza – guitars, vocals, programming
Leonardo Barcaroli – bass
Emiliano Cantiano – drums

Guest musician
Marco Migliorelli – spoken words on “De Infinitate Orbivm” and “De Mortalitate Animae”

Album Review – Ophe / Litteras Ad Tristia Maestrum Solitude (2018)

An avantgarde and experimental album of Black Metal infused with dark atmospheres and nuances, meticulously put together by a one-man army hailing from France.

Litteras Ad Tristia Maestrum Solitude, or “letter to the sad comfort of solitude” from Latin, is not only the brand new album by French Avantgarde Black Metal one-man army Ophe, but also a very avantgardish and experimental piece of Black Metal fixing without any doubt a new limit to the borders of a sound that is a personal mix of Extreme Metal, avantgarde music and dark atmospheres. Recorded and mixed by Edgard Chevallier at Lower Tones Place Studio, and featuring a glamorous artwork painted by the talented French artist Jeff Grimal, Litteras Ad Tristia Maestrum Solitude will bring an obscure joy to the hearts of fans of the music by bands such as Fleurety, Blut Aus Nord, Manes, Anorexia Nervosa and Aevangelist.

Formed in 2015 in Châtillon, a commune in the southwestern suburbs of Paris, by multi-instrumentalist Bargnatt XIX, better known for being the voice and guitar for French Avantgarde project Område, Ophe will certainly crush your senses throughout the 36 minutes of distorted passages, wicked noises and eerie gnarls in Litteras Ad Tristia Maestrum Solitude, with the sonic extravaganza crafted by Bargnatt XIX being beautifully complemented by the saxophone schizophrenia delivered by guest musician Val Dorr (of Aevangelist). In other words, open your mind, let the music by Ophe penetrate deep inside your soul, and the way you view extreme music will never be the same again.

In the opening track, titled Somnum Sempiternum (which means “everlasting sleep” or ‘eternal sleep” from Latin), Bargnatt XIX begins firing Stygian riffs and blast beats together with his hellish gnarls in a vibrant and classy display of Atmospheric Black Metal, with the music getting darker, more fiendish and more demented as time goes by. Furthermore, the wicked saxophone sounds by Val Dorr add a touch of lunacy to the overall result, making the whole song even more delightful. Then we have Decem Vicibus (or “ten times” from Latin), a very obscure composition with the spoken words by Bargnatt XIX sounding smooth but perturbing at the same time, not evolving to any regular type of music you might be accustomed to. Well, that’s the beauty of Ambient Black Metal, as the creepiest sounds can become high-quality music just like that. And medieval, somber background noises set fire to an uncanny creation by Ophe named in XVIIII, with the sax by Val Dorr sounding even more disturbing than before, while Bargnatt XIX’s deep, enraged roars match perfectly with the hypnotizing heavy sounds emanating from all other instruments, in special the delicate and electrified guitar riffs and solos.

Missive Amphibologique D’Une Adynamie A La Solitude, a long and stylish song name that means “amphibological missive of an adynamy to loneliness” from French, is an 11-minute phantasmagoric aria that can easily be used as the soundtrack to your darkest nights, with its blast beats and ferocious growls bringing total chaos to our souls. And the song’s intense insanity goes on and on, with no sign of happiness or joy, courtesy of Bargnatt XIX and Val Dorr who generate a wall of strained, striking and grim sounds and tones in what can be considered a “controlled chaos”. Lastly, after such grandiose havoc it’s time to slow things down in Cadent, where Bargnatt XIX soothes our souls with his semi-acoustic lines embraced by an apocalyptic background to give it a beyond atmospheric vibe, closing the experimental journey by our skillful one-man army in a beautiful way.

In case you want to join the eccentric world of Bargnatt XIX and his Ophe, you can visit the project’s Facebook page for more details about such distinct endeavor, listen to Litteras Ad Tristia Maestrum Solitude on Spotify, and purchase the album from Ophe’s own BandCamp page, from My Kingdom Music’s Big Cartel page, from the Season of Mist webstore, and from the JPC webstore, as well as from your regular retailers iTunes, Amazon and Discogs. And if this enticing album is Bargnatt XIX’s personal letter to the sad comfort of solitude, I can’t wait to see who or what he’s going to write a letter to next.

Best moments of the album: Somnum Sempiternum and XVIIII.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 My Kingdom Music

Track listing
1. Somnum Sempiternum 8:38
2. Decem Vicibus 4:33
3. XVIIII 5:45
4. Missive Amphibologique D’Une Adynamie A La Solitude 10:40
5. Cadent 5:16

Band members
Bargnatt XIX – vocals, all instruments, programming

Guest musician
Val Dorr – saxophone