TEN FROM THE TOMB is a weekly feature in the form of a themed list devoted to grouping together albums of similar interest that I missed throughout the year 2019. These albums were overlooked for review for any number of reasons with the most common reason being constraints of time. I have a policy of covering 99% of everything I receive in some form, be it mini-review or full-feature, so don’t hesitate to send anything and everything my way.
Here I present a ten album sampler of some of the best black metal from the first three months of 2019. This is part I of II, the second part will post on the 21st of March. I can no longer bear the weight of this darkness, it consumes me. Most of these albums made it here to Ten From the Tomb because I couldn’t manage the time for a long-form review or because I really didn’t have more than a paragraph or two worth of insight beyond banal description. If you’re not into the selection this week, relax! This’ll be back every 7 days with 10 more albums from different styles, genres, themes, etc.
Hey! Don’t dive in thinking this will all be shit just because I am not doing full reviews for these releases! I always have some quality control in mind and looked for expressive, meaningful or just damn heavy releases that hold value without gimmickry or bland plagiarism. This weeks picks come from a general backlog of black metal albums I’ve listened to and marked with an above average score. Next weeks subject will be selected by PATREON patrons. I am eternally grateful for the support of readers and appreciate the friendly and positive interactions I’ve had with all thus far. Think my opinions are trash and that I suck? Want to totally tell me off, bro? Click away and let’s all live more sensible lives full of meaningful interactions. I’m too old and bored with people to care.
|Title [Type/Year]||Kraft [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||BUY from P.T.F. [Europe] | PREVIEW on YouTube|
Self-released in the middle of 2018 and now issued by Purity Through Fire on limited digipak (with a set of demo tracks included) this is the ultimate version of German black metal musician Gestalt‘s first vision under Ysbryd‘s crown. I’m almost sure most readers haven’t heard of this record but I am equally sure that all will enjoy its truly cold soul. ‘Kraft’ is a fine subvert of expectation in that it is crisped to an early 90’s sword-swinging hellion’s tonal range but grows into an enormous emotive being as the guitar lines develop. Highly melodic and fiery all the same there is a meditative feeling, something that vacillates between the pride of Horn and the dejection of Austere. Whatever the actual references are they’re communicated in an affecting, emotive fashion that comes with grace and minimal ugliness. I might be making it sound ‘softer’ than it actually is, but it should prove a nice surprise for folks who arrive upon unknown black metal bands with safe assumptions made.
|Title [Type/Year]||Par le Sang Versé [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
There is a sense among casual black metal fandom that melodic black metal is not often done well, that it holds little value nor fellowship yet when an album like ‘Par le Sang Versé’ receives notice they are stunned. Those dedicated to perusing all spectrum of the arts know that melodic black metal has been on a stunning upsurge for nearly a decade and the greater output from France has begun to receive nearly as much notice as it had in the mid-to-late 90’s; This comes with the same focus on medieval histoire, pre-Roman culture, and a ton of distinct melodic ideas. Véhémence are perhaps closer to the atmospheric black metal leaning melodic crowd within Québec. You’ll find a clean refinement of melodic black metal old and new here with most of it driven by repetitive lead runs. I found this album highly effective at first but much like Spectral Wound and Forteresse it didn’t have that je ne sais quoi that Sühnopfer and Aorlhac have already developed. The potential is there and this is a smart record throughout but they aren’t quite distinct enough yet for my tastes. I will say that if you are just a guitarist you’ll love this and can ignore my thoughts on it.
|Title [Type/Year]||Servants of the Cold Night [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
As Fallen Empire records marched so quickly unto death several of their later releases have found some ownership or reissue including Andeis‘ debut full-length ‘Servants of the Cold Night’ which now finds itself co-released in limited numbers (150 copies) between Lunar Apparitions and Esfinge de la Calavera. Cavernous and well, not furious but just insidious in their sorcery Andeis are an enigmatic force that is at once raw and fluid to the point of scintillation. The album sounds as if it was recorded in a Stockholm basement circa 1992 and the vocals appear to hit the walls of the recording space in due fashion. It is harrowing but not chaotic or violent, just dark and ruinous to the mind rather than the flesh. I loved the sparing use of keyboards on “Andilausa aƕa azgons” in particular as they intensified the driving force of the song. The lyrics are written in the Gothic language and considering the amount of detail and class shown between the art and the lyrics, I do not doubt there is even more stunning depth here for those seeking it.
|Title [Type/Year]||Mot Ein Evig Ruin [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Blodhemn has been the focus of Bergen, Norway based musician Invisus since 2004 and as you can imagine his work fits quite well within the great brutality and finesse the region is known to produce. The sound of the record has been handled by Øystein Brun (Borknagar, Cronian) with another mastering job from Christian Indregard so you can expect that it is very clean and very sharp throughout. I felt the bass drum hits at high speed sounded artificial and distracting but the focus is largely set upon the guitar work and Invisus‘ rasp, which is fairly unique in tone. The jib of this release is absolutely thrashing with a focus on performative jogging riffs rather than the Taake-esque melodic play of their previous records. Guitar work is precise and angular in its technical approach and I begin to understand why Blodhemn is often compared to the modern records from Ragnarok. I felt that ‘Mot Ein Evig Ruin’ is not a masterpiece but a brutal spectacle, a brutal public murder rather than a gallery piece and that seems to be the point. It might not be the most ‘lasting’ black metal record I’ve heard this year but it has served well as a nice blast of dark energy.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Veil of Darkness [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Osmose Productions Bandcamp!|
Active from roughly 1991 ’til 2001 the original run of albums from French black metal band Gorgon don’t look all that impressive today with their cheap cover art and when you dig back through all of those records they really hadn’t hit upon anything special until ‘The Jackal Pact’ (1998). It appears original guitarist/vocalist Christophe Chatelet felt there was unfinished business sixteen years later as he returns with ‘The Veil of Darkness’ and picks up more or less where he’d left off. I appreciate the way Chatelet uses keyboards on this album (see: title track) where they’re effective without being overbearing. The thrashing Bathory-esque grooves he creates feel almost like early Falkenbach but this is circumvented by the punkish affect that has always defined Gorgon. Here the hardcore punk feels more natural in 2019 than it would have in the late 90’s and it almost suggests that this type of project needed the black metal zeitgeist to catch up to the maturation of Gorgon‘s music.
|Title [Type/Year]||Under Pale Moon [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Conceived well beyond the peak of ‘melodic’ and symphonic black metal’s stylistic popularity Ringar was one of the earlier projects from Nashville, Tennessee based musician Esoterica (Ars Hmu, Chaos Moon, Entheogen, Guðveiki, Krieg, Martröð, Skáphe) though the project would dissolve the best pieces of an indevelopment full-length would later be chopped and recycled into his debut as Chaos Moon thereafter. Reborn after well over a decade and renamed Ringarë the project now includes Swedish vocalist Likpredikaren (Ars Hmu, Demonomantic, Musmahhu, Summum). The style here is translated from the old symphonic style of atmospheric black metal (Limbonic Art, Odium, Tartaros) and upgraded towards the sensibilites of today (Vargrav). The guitars are distant and floaty with their atmoblack progressions and the keyboard/synth work ends up being the most interesting lead instrument. It reminds me of just slightly of Eldamar at times perhaps with the softer atmospherics of Hermóðr beneath. If my name drops are any indication I don’t find this experience transcendent or distinct due to the fairly clustered atmoblack landscape of today. This doesn’t factor into my enjoyment, though, as I adore the dream-like sound and the full listen of ‘Under Pale Moon’.
|Title [Type/Year]||Gronspech [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
It’d seem that the golden age of black metal (well, the 90’s) is worth reaching back towards for so many artists and to be fair it is a nice bout of nostalgia that is effective no matter how much (or how little) work is put into it. A buzzing guitar, a round of local mythos, and some solid riffs still make for a bit of culture for metal’s greater swinedom. Netherlands based Asgrauw present their third full-length since forming in 2010 and no doubt if you lean towards modern works of black metal you can check out their other project Meslamtaea. ‘Gronspech’ tells the tales of Gelderland, the region of the Netherlands that inspires and sustains Asgrauw. From an objective point of view these are 4-6 minute black metal songs that run the gamut of melodic, atmospheric, raw, and generally wistfully achieved second wave black metal ideas. I wouldn’t say their style is as razor edged as ‘second wave’ suggests at face value, there is a heritage of pagan black metal stirring within ‘Gronspech’ as well and I think that is the right audience for its sound, style and subject matter.
|Title [Type/Year]||Ligæder [Reissue/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Spiraling deeper within the madness of the Copenhagen, Denmark based Korpsånd circle’s Blot & Bod in 2017 with their debut full-length ‘Ligæder’, a raw conglomeration of Helhammer-kicked hardcore black metal. Themed in Norse mythology and chock full of sludgy riffs there is a full-fledged warrior represented in the brutally stupid tones and thoughtful grooves of this debut. It is well worthy of wider release and this reissue sets ‘Ligæder’ on vinyl where it belongs. I would recommend this to folks who like early Bone Awl as much as they do recent Wulkanaz records and don’t mind meeting in the black-punkish middle with some Celtic Frost bleeding through.
|Title [Type/Year]||Thy Will Be Done [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.0/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
If you’re already hesitant to listen to ‘Thy Will Be Done’ based off of its cover art I wouldn’t blame you but, Perpetual Among Us have put a decent amount of work and thought into the actual music. A conceptual piece following a ‘god complex’ serial killer’s method in four acts this EP is modern black metal in sound yet they do not dabble in discordance, trite atmospherics, or synth work in favor of hard-pushed rasping fare. The influences are as polished as their sound with elements of Batushka, Marduk, and I could perhaps see their sound beginning to resemble Behemoth over time. It is a start and you can tell the band are business minded so their full-length should serve equally polished and modern material. I guess I don’t see the point of the hooded anonymity but ultimately it doesn’t matter, only makes it harder to care about the fairly rote songwriting within.
|Title [Type/Year]||Thanatophobia [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Spacious, dramatic, and unmistakably USBM in its eclectic and ambitious stylistic ventures the black metal centered vision of Unendlich mastermind Michael Connors finds a meaningful path forward with this third full-length ‘Thanatophobia’. This feels like a return to the later era of weirdness from Wild Rags, where he’d taken chances with bands based on unique taste. There is a grime in the performances, something wretchedly progressive and pompous, that lends itself well to Connors exploration of nihilism and/or the profound weakness offered by religious thought. Post-hardcore, darkwave, melodic black metal, and a fair amount of early 00’s progressive extreme metal appear to inspire these compositions to the point where I’m not sure who to recommend it to; Definitely something for the Epoch of Unlight, Thyrane, and later Emperor fans but nothing so taut that it all becomes one great opus. The elephant in the room is clearly Connors‘ clean vocals on “Already Dead” which are fantastic in their goth affect. I found I wanted more of what made Unendlich distinct, why not make a full album utilizing that piano driven moment rather than fill roughly a fourth of the albums length with repetitive acoustic interludes? Either way I enjoyed this record for its ambitious nature and the fine performances throughout but I feel it is time to ‘shit or get of the pot’ in terms of going progressive metal.
Did I miss your favorite 2019 album? Send me an e-mail and tell me about it. It is always worthwhile to speak up for the lesser known stuff. Please remember you can contribute to my Patreon @ only $1 USD per month ($12 a year) to help keep me in front of the computer writing about metal. Thanks.
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