Ten From the Tomb 3/21/19: Paraclētus ad tenebræ et infinitas II

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 II of II, the first part posted on the 19th 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.


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Artist Ambrotos
Title [Type/Year] Cosmic Annulus [EP/2019]
Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp

Formed in Patras, Greece but including members from Mexico this modern Greek black metal band fittingly focus on pre-Socratic philosophy from their region. Ambrotos aren’t necessarily archaic in the sense that their style does not immediately invoke the early classics of Hellenic black metal, instead their style is forceful and fairly modern leaning towards contemporaries like Eriphion and the slightly less death metal work from Naer Mataron. The guitar work is subtle and quite good but leaves little impression with repetitive riffs that hint at interesting movements but just kind of hammer along with the very basic drum patterns. I think this band is generally on the right track but I’d like to see them explore melody more than the hints of chaos they toy with in the first and third tracks here.


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Artist Blackdeath
Title [Type/Year] Phantasmhassgorie [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

The ninth album from St. Petersburg, Russian project Blackdeath since forming in the mid-90’s is not only one of their sharper sounding records in a while but the initiated fan will be more surprised that it is hardly raw. They’re a brutally orthodox group all the same that have rarely shied away from the ethos of second wave black metal, their sound and approach is typically pure hell and unapologetic for it but this comes with dark and less forceful vision. In listening to their discography I found that you could more or less predict what sort of sound you were getting from Blackdeath based on the logo they’ve used for the cover, so I might’ve known that this wasn’t one of their more abrasive works with that insight. Perhaps it will sound trite but I felt their approach on this record resembled a slightly less rigid take on early Mayhem, I could be way off but there are plenty of spiraling and wildly raw black metal riffs to soak in on a closer listen. Though I’ve harped on the more traditional aspects of their sound, it does feel like the band are a bit more serious and ambitious on this record than on the last few, as much as I liked ‘Gift’ (2015) for its raw insanity.


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Artist

Bekmørk

Title [Type/Year] Incantations of the Frigid North [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Norwegian raw black metal duo Bekmørk are a bit more than they seem. Yes, you can plainly see they’re basement level ear-shredders ready to curse the sky at every turn but you might not expect their Darkthrone influenced sound to toy with classic doom/stoner rock riffs along the way. The same way ‘A Blaze in the Northern Sky’ used peak Celtic Frost to boost their skeletal simplicity so borrow Bekmørk from rock and heavy metal for interest. They’re not about to change the world with this approach and I think Furze have done something a bit more refined with these ideas over the years but for a debut EP this has a lot of smart moments. I particularly liked “Creed of the Nihilist (Alt Er Ingenting)” because it reminded me of Black Flag almost as much as Hellhammer, something groovy and something janky all the same. I didn’t come back to this one too many times because it was just too raw to sit with for an extended period of time.


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Artist Deveneror
Title [Type/Year] Kenoma [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

The debut full-length from the otherwise mysterious dissonant/avant-black metal project Deveneror is a deconstruction (of a deconstruction) of black metal to its most disparate elements. Like many other projects they’ve taken cues from middle-era Deathspell Omega and expanded upon those ideas in perpetuity using both ringing atmospheric movements and brutally achieved intensity. The valleys are more curious and unsettling than the peaks, the odd lounge-like moments that pulled me in for “You For the Eons” set up expectations that this would be more than just a ringing, blasting dissonant storm of atonal righteousness but there wasn’t another reasonable break until the end of “Icon For the Lost”. My favorite track here “Grave Tactics” probably goes on for three minutes too long but I still find this style of blackened psychosis entertaining. I was under the impression that members of this band were involved in ÆRA, a band I’d recommend checking out, but I’m not entirely sure what the relation is.


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Artist Infernarium
Title [Type/Year] Kadotuksen Harmonia [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Although the realm of traditional Finnish black metal bands is a full house by all accounts it is difficult to explain exactly what ‘traditional black metal’ means in terms of the greater history of Finnish black metal. In terms of just raw, crazed and violent black metal that can shift gears from Bathory to Dissection on a dime, that kind of stuff is well honed in the hands of Sargeist, Horna and their ilk. I’d say Infernarium fit as maybe openers for that sort of band, though they’re a bit more ‘Deathcrush’ and less Satyricon in general. I enjoyed the full listen of this album but the pitch shifted guttural vocal moments really don’t work (especially “Amen Armageddon”) and I had little desire to come back to this one after two spins. Among their ranks are members of Daemonarchia, Malum, Sarkrista, and Kalmankantaja so there is some assurance that they will develop a more interesting path over time when looking at past achievements. Not exactly rote but also nothing particularly empowering beyond a few really hard-hitting slow-motion riffs.


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Artist Black Goat
Title [Type/Year] Magia Posthuma The Inmost Darkness – Second Phenomenon [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Released last year on CD and now available digitally for the first time this final full-length from Serpukhov, Russia black metal project Black Goat is truly a hidden gem for fans of both dark ambient black metal and that old school Mediterranean and eastern European occult sound. “Black Goat / Omen Perditionis” is a beguiling 10+ minute opus that should quickly sell folks on this album especially if you’re still enamored with ancient demos from Varathron, Arckanum, Necromantia as well as first wave black metal style (see: “Reap the Harvest”). The album does eventually reveal itself as a sort of mix of pre-’86 Bathory-esque terror and this actually goes quite well with the dark ambient and ritual ambient ideas he explores throughout. As primitive, raw, and unbalanced as the recording is there is a ferality to it that I enjoyed. It is a shame this project has ended because they’d created some of their finest work across these last 2-3 years, several strong releases that are all well worth digging through and finding.


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Artist Sammas’ Equinox
Title [Type/Year] Pilgrimage / Boahjenásti [Compilation/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Yet another raw anti-production sound from Finland that compiles two demos ‘Pilgrimage’ (2016)  and ‘Boahjenásti’ (2017) from Sammas’ Equinox, a group that features key members of Blood Red Fog both of whom also perform live duties for Nécropole. The press release mentions the rawness as a trend and/or lineage from the first Satanic Warmaster record and I suppose that is a good starting point where raw and semi-melodic sensibilities found in modern Finnish black metal find some sense of experimentation with both melody and noise. Maybe the ‘Dark Medieval Times’ kick I’ve been on lately has rubbed off onto my referential mind a bit, but there is a bit of that semi-melodic sentimentality in many of the bands I’ve mentioned but no doubt this compilation will be more meaningful for fans of modern raw Finnish black metal that isn’t just plainly emulating bland Norwegian riff cliches. The material from ‘Boahjenásti’  feels a bit more original in this sense and I found myself coming back to it much more often. Both tapes are pretty solid and they’ve piqued my interest in a full-length as the combination of their two approaches could make for a compelling album.


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Artist DunkelNacht
Title [Type/Year] Empires of Mediocracy [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

If all of that raw shit gave you a headache up to this point we shift gears back to modern black metal with the next three selections, first up is the third full-length from Lille, France band Dunkelnacht. In fact, they’re almost insufferably modern with a big prog-metal guitar sound and a set of songs that offer an accessible blend of progressive metal instrumentation, black metal aesthetics, rock solos, and dark metal songwriting. This is the sort of music I felt had died a horrible death in the early 2000’s and I’m a bit surprised to hear this oddly balanced take on ‘black metal’ return. I’m not necessarily knocking the listening experience but it goes in a different direction in each song to the point that it feels like they’re looking for an accessible hit rather than a fully conceived release. I admire the fact that it isn’t just a ‘genre’ entry but I think a band like The Konsortium does a much better job finding modernization without losing identity flitting between stylized ideas. I found it difficult to gather my thoughts on this one and I would usually drop it after the chuggy parts on “Verses and Allegations” but I’m sure there is a huge market for this type of music out there that I’m blind to.


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Artist Hermóðr
Title [Type/Year] Forest Sky [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Östergötland, Sweden based atmospheric black metal artist Rafn is incredibly prolific and it seems he releases every musical thought he has as they come without a great ear for what is special. Though I find much of his work derivative, repetitive, and hardly worth mentioning his latest album under the Hermóðr name, ‘Forest Sky’, is a pretty decent continuation of his sound. I’m sure all of that sounds a bit harsh but I think this 55 minute album could have been amazing if he’d cut out a lot of the redundant musical thoughts (see: “Echoes in the Woods”, “Northern Forest”, “Tales of the Forgotten”) and put a bit less time into creating that now very rote sounding distant atmosphere. ‘Forest Sky’ has several compelling moments but it always felt like they were about 4-5 minutes apart. Chalk it up to my own impatience or whatever you like but I felt this album was still a nice listen despite any small issues.


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Artist Black Anvil
Title [Type/Year] Miles [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] LISTEN on Bandcamp!

As much as I love extreme metal trivia it was a really odd surprise to learn that Black Anvil was more or less ex-members of Kill Your Idols. One of the first promo CDs I’d ever been sent was ‘This is Just the Beginning’ (1998) and it was a pretty exciting thing to grab as a kid who was pretty wild about Poison Idea and Good Riddance at the time. Anyhow, their first two albums were just alright stuff. A mix of blackened hardcore, black/thrash, and black metal ideas that wouldn’t really hit the mark until ‘Hail Death’ (2014) which many folks would compare with Watain at that point. A much more accessible style hit with ‘As Was’ (2017), it was difficult to classify but an easy listen and that thread continues today with their latest EP ‘Miles’. The EP includes a couple of songs that were shelved before they’d head in that new direction heard on ‘As Was’, a tribute to Selim Lemouchi of The Devil’s Blood as well as a cover of one of his songs (“Everlasting Saturnalia”) alongside a cover of Mercyful Fate‘s “A Corpse Without Soul”. They’re all over the place here and I don’t think any of this is indicative of any future direction so much as it is a collection of songs that show the range of Black Anvil today. They’re a bit black/thrash, a touch melodic hardcore, very capable of catchy modern metal hooks, and just as comfortable handling Denner/Sherman material. “Miles” is a great song and I’d grab it just for that.


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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