Album Review – Wardaemonic / Acts of Repentance (2020)

Hailing from Western Australia, an infernal horde returns with more of their ancient and inscrutable Black Metal in the form of the mightiest album of their career.

Back from the hellish pits of Perth, Western Australia with the mightiest album of their career, the excellent Acts of Repentance, a ruthless Black Metal horde known as Wardaemonic has gone from strength to strength in their new album, incorporating slower, dissonant parts that work brilliantly when contrasted with their trademark “ancient and inscrutable Black Metal”. Furthermore, the band comprised of Maelstrom on vocals and drums, Anharat and Lord Bane on the guitars and Blitz on bass and synths offers fans of the music by iconic names such as Immortal, Marduk, Watain and Dark Funeral, among others, everything we crave in classic Black Metal, feeling uncompromising and steely in its approach while backed with enough experience to make the entire album memorable and also intriguing for the listener to keep coming back to it for more. Featuring a sulfurous artwork by French artist Leoncio Harmr (Eternal Storm) and layout by Finnish artist Turkka Rantanen (Paganizer, Demilich), Acts of Repentance is not only a fantastic addition to the band’s discography, marking their fourth full-length opus and the follow-up to their 2015 installment Obsequium, but also a must-have release for anyone who respects and admires underground Black Metal from the bottom of their (evil) hearts.

Dragging our souls to their Stygian Australian lair, the quarter begins their devastating Black Metal onrush in the first of the album’s five acts from hell, Act I – Introspection, where Maelstrom sounds beyond infernal with both his blast beats and devilish vociferations, resulting in a lecture in old school Black Metal clearly inspired by the genre’s infamous Scandinavian sound. Not only that, Anharat and Lord Bane will penetrate deep inside your psyche with their crushing riffage, and if you survive such demented and vicious display of extreme music you better get ready for another ass-kicking tune titled Act II – Admission, offering the listener nine minutes of blackened sounds and cryptic passages where those four black metallers from Down Under don’t stop hammering their instruments for our total delight. Moreover, Blitz makes the earth tremble with his bass lines and diabolical synths, helping the music flow as darkly and aggressively as it can be until the very end.

Then an absolutely atmospheric and phantasmagorical intro ignites the 12-minute aria entitled Act III – Castigation, morphing into a disruptive and evil sonic feast led by Maelstrom and his unstoppable blast beats and also bringing elements of primeval Doom Metal and Blackened Doom to our avid ears, not to mention the strident riffs and endless rage flowing from Maelstrom’s inhumane gnarls, sounding multi-layered, dense and utterly impactful. Another grim and captivating ambience brought forth by Wardaemonic is suddenly replaced by an avalanche of violent Black Metal titled Act IV – Sufferance, where the somber vocalizations by Maelstrom make an interesting paradox with his trademark deep roars while the band’s guitar duo continues to breathe fire from their stringed weapons. And ending the album in the most brutal and demolishing way we have Act V – Repentance, an unrelenting display of traditional Black Metal infused with Melodic and even Atmospheric Black Metal nuances. Your mind will be destroyed by the stunning riffs by both Anharat and Lord Bane accompanied by Blitz’s thunderous bass punches, concluding the album’s five acts on a truly high note.

Wardaemonic Acts of Repentance Autographed CD Boxset

The gates to the underworld of Australian metal are open once again thanks to Wardaemonic and their wicked new opus Acts of Repentance, available for a full listen on YouTube and on Spotify, and in order to join those talented metallers in their quest for Black Metal simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, and purchase your copy of the album from their own BandCamp page, from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore in CD format or as an amazing autographed CD boxset, or from Apple Music. After such pulverizing opus of Extreme Metal, I bet you’re eager for more of the music by Wardaemonic, and I’m quite sure we won’t have to wait for another five excruciating years to hear again from one of the most talented and solid metal acts coming from Australia, darkening the skies and our souls with their undisputed Black fuckin’ Metal.

Best moments of the album: Act I – Introspection and Act III – Castigation.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Act I – Introspection 7:15
2. Act II – Admission 8:58
3. Act III – Castigation 12:09
4. Act IV – Sufferance 9:01
5. Act V – Repentance 8:14

Band members
Maelstrom – vocals, drums
Anharat – lead guitars
Lord Bane – guitars
Blitz – bass, synth programming

Album Review – The Wandering Ascetic / Crimson (2019)

Drawing influences from the Hellenic Black Metal scene, here comes a Singaporean squad armed with their brand new album of dissonant and hypnotic sounds.

Formed in 2011 in Singapore by Kathir, vocalist and bassist for Rudra, an iconic Death and Black Metal act from the local scene, The Wandering Ascetic are making a name for themselves in the underground of heavy music by blasting a more exemplary black and thrash sonority without the Indian classical instruments seen in the music by Rudra, but still retaining their trademark spiritual fervor. Accompanied by guitarist Vinod (also from Rudra), bassist Jayakumar and drummer Kannan K, Kathir and his The Wandering Ascetic draw their influences from the Hellenic Black Metal scene (as well as obviously from Rudra), generating dissonant, hypnotic sound s infused with crushing riffs and grooves, elevating their music and art to a whole different level.

After the release of their debut EP titled Manifest Destiny, in 2013, it’s time for The Wandering Ascetic to smash our senses once again with their first full-length opus, the excellent Crimson, featuring a life-transforming artwork by Mark Riddick (Fetid Zombie) and layout by Turkka Rantanen (Demilich, Demigod). Comprised of 10 unrelenting songs ranging from pure old school Black Metal to modern-day Southern Rock and Groove Metal, Crimson is a solid and very entertaining statement by The Wandering Ascetic in a scene that seems stagnant at times, showing how powerful Singaporean metal can be and, as a consequence, opening several doors in the international market for the band.

Vinod begins his slashing attack accompanied by Jayakumar’s thunderous bass in Eva Braun, with Kathir roaring demonically for our total delight in a Black and Death Metal attack spiced up by hints of Progressive Metal, flowing darkly until its eerie end; then the tribal beats by Kannan K ignite another obscure composition named I Sing the Body Electric, showcasing an obscure rhythm inspired by old school Black and Doom Metal tailored for fans of the genre where the guitar lines by Vinod sound as flammable as they can be. Bringing elements form the music by Gojira, Mastodon and Tool we have the beautifully titled The Exorcism of Mrs. Doe, a very intricate and sulfurous tune where Jayakumar and Kannan K generate a dense and disturbing atmosphere with their weapons, followed by The Gods Bleed!, a song perfect for breaking your neck headbanging spearheaded by Vinod’s devilish riffs, while Kathir continues to vociferate like a demonic entity, not to mention how metallic and impactful Jayakumar’s bass punches sound and feel.

Beast of Burden presents more melody blended with sheer darkness in the form of modern-day Death and Black Metal, with Vinod being on absolute fire with his riffs and solos while the gnarls by Kathir only get more and more infernal, and The Wandering Ascetic keep hammering our heads with their crushing sonority in The Will to Live, where all four band members make sure we don’t stop banging our heads to their vicious music, with highlights to Kathir’s enraged growls and Vinod’s ass-kicking guitar solo. After such high level of devastation, it’s time to dive deep into the crypts of Hades with those Singaporean metallers in To Hell, Back and to Hell Again, a classic, straightforward metal extravaganza with elements from the dirty Rock N’ Roll played by bands like Motörhead and Chrome Division, which obviously means it kicks some serious ass.

Here for the Good Things keeps the album at a very good level of malignancy and hatred despite sounding a bit generic (or I should say less inspired than the other songs), with Vinod slashing his guitar in a very precise and aggressive manner; and the cutting sound of his guitar is once again the main ingredient in the visceral Assassins, displaying some hypnotizing instrumental parts, in special Vinod’s guitar solo, while Kannan K doesn’t let the energy go down by smashing his drums nonstop. Finally we have Orang Laut, an ominous and grim blast of extreme music highly inspired by classic Doom Metal, with Vinod and Jayakumar extracting the most Stygian sounds from their strings and with the music ending as dark as anyone can imagine.

It’s not always that we have the pleasure of facing high-end metal music from such distinct country, completely out of the North American and European markets, and we metalheads should not only thank The Wandering Ascetic for that by following them on Facebook, but mainly by purchasing their new album Crimson from their own BandCamp page, from the Transcending Obscurity webstore, or from other retailers like Target. Crimson might not be considered a true revolution in music, but the four guys from The Wandering Ascetic definitely put on a lot of energy, creativity and passion in the writing, composing and recording of the album to ensure they were not just playing “more of the same”. Quite the contrary, Crimson does sound very unique and compelling, elevating the name of Singapore in the world of heavy music and paving a very interesting future for the quartet.

Best moments of the album: I Sing the Body Electric, The Gods Bleed! and To Hell, Back and to Hell Again.

Worst moments of the album: Here for the Good Things.

Released in 2019 Transcending Obscurity Asia

Track listing
1. Eva Braun 5:18
2. I Sing the Body Electric 4:46
3. The Exorcism of Mrs. Doe 4:28
4. The Gods Bleed! 4:42
5. Beast of Burden 4:01
6. The Will to Live 3:15
7. To Hell, Back and to Hell Again 3:10
8. Here for the Good Things 4:10
9. Assassins 5:04
10. Orang Laut 3:12

Band members
Kathir – vocals
Vinod – lead & rhythm guitars
Jayakumar – bass
Kannan K – drums