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 – Bathsheba / Servus (2017)

From the depths of the black charcoal mountains rises a new Occult Doom Metal entity, bringing endless sadness, pain and anguish with their first full-length opus.

From the depths of the black charcoal mountains rises Bathsheba, an unholy gathering of four talented musicians hailing from Genk, a city located in the Belgian province of Limburg, aiming at spreading grief and agony all over the world with their first full-length opus, the excellent Servus. Portraying a biblical name and fronted by the stunning she-devil Michelle Nocon (Serpentcult, Leviathan Speaks, Death Penalty), this distinct quartet formed in 2013 brings forth an occult version of Doom Metal intensified by elements from Sludge and Black Metal, resulting in a blackened feast of atmospheric and schizophrenic sounds.

The mystical frontwoman Michelle, together with guitarist Dwight Goossens (Disinterred), bassist Raf Meukens (Death Penalty, Torturerama) and drummer Jelle Stevens (Sardonis), released a demo  tape in October 2014 and shortly after signed to Svart Records, releasing an EP titled The Sleepless Gods in May 2015, which then led the band to participate in important underground festivals such as Doom Over London, DesertFest, Incubate, Dutch Doom Days and Doomed Gatherings. However, it’s with Servus, which features a stylish artwork by Olivier Lomer-Wilbers (Dissolvtion), that the band has reached a new level of wickedness, offering the listener six complex and peculiar songs about struggle, sadness, constant threat and distortion of the mind. In other words, Bathsheba will drag you into the horror of existence under the crushing weight of reality with the doomed music found in Servus.

Somber words work as an intro to the sluggish and obscure tune Conjuration of Fire, with the slow, dirty rhythm carved by Dwight, Raf and Jelle opening the gates of hell for the she-demon Michelle to start mesmerizing us by declaiming the song’s poetic lyrics (“Art of chaos / come over me / I wander endlessly / Are you the One / the One for me / Divided in Earth and Sea”). Furthermore, the second part of the song gets beautifully heavier and more diabolical, turning it into a modern-day witchcraft hymn. Like a tenebrous tempest, Bathsheba come crushing our souls in the boisterous Ain Soph, displaying old school doomed beats by Jelle and whimsical guitars by Dwight. Michelle delivers some deeper, darker vocal lines, while a saxophone creates a gripping paradox with the song’s more extreme Black Metal-inspired sounds. And the somber aura present in both previous songs continues to penetrate our skin in Manifest, where an atmospheric background and the smooth voice by Michelle are slowly joined by the other instruments until the music reaches a fierce Doom Metal stage bursting with melancholy and heaviness. Put differently, this excellent composition will offer you 10 minutes of hopelessness emanating from its sharp riffs, flammable solos and those potent and steady beats only found in old school Doom Metal.

Wandering through a desolated field, Bathsheba fire Demon 13, an awesome Doom and Sludge Metal chant with a demonic vibe showcasing a growing excruciating pain through the rumbling roar by Raf’s bass guitar and the pounding drums by Jelle, with Michelle sounding more menacing and pleasant and the same time. Inspired by the most obscure creations by Black Sabbath, Dwight brings tons of feeling to the music in the slow-paced and melodic composition The Sleepless Gods, while Michelle becomes some sort of enchantress through her vocals; and if you love truly dark sounds, I, at the End of Everything will certainly please your ears, being like a tribal version of Doom Metal displaying Stygian guitar lines in sync with Jelle’s rhythmic beats, not to mention the song’s conjuring lyrics (“And by the virtue of the Highest One / I command Thee / To perfect the Creation / Make me myself again / Universe tremble again / You who is worthy of all praise”). After this song is over, I bet you’ll go back to the beginning of Servus again and again so addictive Michelle’s performance is throughout the entire album, proving how gripping the music by Bathsheba can be.

Servus is already on sale at several locations, such as Bathsheba’s BandCamp or Big Cartel in different formats (CD, LP, CD + shirt package and LP + shirt package), at the Svart Records’ webstore, at Record Shop X, at Discogs, on iTunes or on Amazon. This, my friends, is the sorrowful and eldritch world crafted by this dark entity called Bathsheba, an obscure land where although happiness and peace are not welcome, we’ll indubitably enjoy living in its shadows.

Best moments of the album: Conjuration of Fire and Demon 13.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Svart Records

Track listing
1. Conjuration of Fire 7:34
2. Ain Soph 5:42
3. Manifest 10:33
4. Demon 13 5:45
5. The Sleepless Gods 7:14
6. I, at the End of Everything 8:25

Band members
Michelle Nocon – vocals
Dwight Goossens – guitars
Raf Meukens – bass
Jelle Stevens – drums