Ten From the Tomb 4/15/19: Caina, antenora, ptolomaea et judecca.

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 & blackened death metal from early 2019. Consider it a soundtrack to the crackling, explosive fires that fill the air with acrid smoke and wailing souls as every last Christian church burns to the ground. 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 seeing the Notre-Dame de Paris burn and collapse today, celebrate the destruction of all Christendom as the ruins begin to pile. Remember all of pre-Christian civilization that had to be destroyed, raped, burned, sickened, enslaved, and erased to build those churches and that horrendous religion. Next week it’ll be some overlooked March releases. Thank you! 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.


Artist Aoratos
Title [Type/Year] Gods Without Name [Full-length/2019]
Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Naas Alcameth‘s legacy is one marked by consistently high art, mountains of hard work and the darkest occult rift perhaps knowable within United States black metal. An original member of Excommunion who’d soon create a spire of legacy within Nightbringer, Alcameth has branched out with alternating side-project releases from (initially) dark ambient horror in Akhlys and later the epic occult roars of Bestia Arcana starting around 2009. From my own experience Nightbringer is one of the absolute best live experiences from USBM that I’ve sat with in the last decade, so I am surely a fan though I know very little about Aoratos. The other member is unknown but I will tentatively assume it is Menthos based on the drum performances, though knowing my sense for analogue drumming… it could likely be a drum machine. That they’ve labeled this as dark ambient/black metal is curious because it does appear to be very much in line with the latest Bestia Arcana release in terms of fidelity and dark sound design but the sound is closer to pre-2010 or so Nightbringer.

‘Gods Without Name’ is sonically huge, a gigantic and deeply black reverberation that is forceful and violent. It is a black metal album both traditional and overblown but also bursting with the labyrinth of riff and blast that Alcameth‘s taste persists with. I scheduled a lot of time in early April to examine and immerse myself in this record and yet found it hit me a bit like Enthroned and Marduk did in the very late 90’s: A lot of blustering intensity, a haunted chapel filled with horrors, and essentially nothing that felt special unless I was smack in the middle of the event. I suppose what nagged me as I intentionally drowned myself in ‘Gods Without Name’ was that I’d been more satisfied with other similar projects and didn’t feel like there was enough differentiation, or at least it was intensely subtle. This doesn’t affect my valuation of the experience but it does cause some disintegration of its lasting value in my mind. The album comes and goes and though it impresses, it  does not stick.


Artist Sangue
Title [Type/Year] Culś [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Based out of Rome, Italy this rogue blackened death metal project is an exciting prospect not only for its  but for its membership featuring Morbo vocalist Mirko Scarpa and Alex West (Pungent Stench). It seems they’d intended to rip out some violent straight black/death metal but it’d developed into something ranting, majestic and occasionally tribalistic as it formed. This is a rare case where I really appreciate the interludes in a relatively short album, some of which come from Claudio Simonetti a member of progressive rock band Goblin. I would say that this album leans heavier towards death metal but in a sort of early Acheron kind of way that still feels blackened enough that it counts. “Her Cold Breath” was the point where I was completely on board with this record, and the three tracks that follow are each better than the last.

They’ve really pulled out the stops by including a guest vocal from Taneli Jarva (ex-Sentenced), artwork from Timo Ketola and Enzo Sciotti, and a beautifully ‘old school’ and earthen production from Marco of Demonomancy and his The Devil’s Mark Studio who’ve given us great stuff recently from Asphodelus, Sacrilegia, and Extirpation. It does feel like ‘Culś’ is pulling from the classic ‘underground’ death metal sensibilities first but then reaching towards occult black metal, and the blurry line that existed around 1993 as blackened death metal struck up across eastern Europe. Though I loved this record and highly recommend it, I found it to just be one of those records where any review I’d come up with beyond these two labored paragraphs would be forced and reaching for more to say. I think this is the type of record you just need to jump into and I’d especially recommend it to folks who like late 80’s death metal demos but also have a thing for Master’s Hammer and Christ Agony.


Artist Malakhim
Title [Type/Year] II [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

A promising new project out of Umeå, Sweden a town which’d also birth Naglfar and Ancient Wisdom both of which feature(d) Malakhim guitarist Andreas Nilsson who brings glorious melodic lineage and perfectly void-creating liquid static guitar tone and mind-tearing erratic rhythms to their sound. The eye was half-shut on ‘Demo I’ (2017) but on ‘II’ Malakhim awakens in full Satanic glory with a style somewhere between traditional Swedish black metal ideals and modern atmospheric jaggedness. At times I’m reminded of The Black, Svartsyn, and Funeral Mist along some of the more classic ’94-’96 era of Swedish melodic black metal. There is a lot to take in initially and the approach isn’t all that simple to describe despite ‘II’ being relatively short. I believe this is a great sign of things to come and a truly fine piece of intense and varied black metal.


Artist Hiss From the Moat
Title [Type/Year] The Harrier [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Originally a deathcore band from members of tech-death, deathcore and brutal death metal bands in the Milan and Lombardy area of Italy Hiss From the Moat would transition towards what I’d consider Belphegor and Behemoth-esque black/death metal with their first album back in 2013. Their drummer would duck out for a few years to play on ‘Sedition’ and ‘Regicide’ from tech-brutal death metal band Hour of Penance until about 2016 and it’d seem they’d been working on ‘The Harrier’ since. Hiss From the Moat‘s first album was pretty decent if you’re a fan of 2000’s Behemoth and ‘The Harrier’ isn’t a drastic change from that style though they’ve amped up the more dramatic sound that groups like Hate and Azarath have toyed with over the last decade or two. While I think it is admirable to kind of get to that level of sound and style it wouldn’t appear to most that Hiss From the Moat have really mastered it, or made this form of black/death their own.


Artist Heretical Sect
Title [Type/Year] Rotting Cosmic Grief [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

As the two original halves of Ash Borer exist in two regions of the United States it’d seem the forces of Vrasubatlat and their countless Portland, Oregon projects begin to see stylized kin in the Santa Fe, New Mexico region with Predatory Light, Vanum, Superstition, and now Heretical Sect. You’ll know it to be dark and impossibly blackened but I think the true calling for this band might be in its crawling threads of doom. Think along the lines of Head of the Demon but with that atmosphere entombed by the cult roar of Ysigim with the vile whispers of black metallic ritual guiding its blasphemic rip. ‘Rotting Cosmic Grief’ appears as black metal divorced from all lineage and cursed by garage-haunting doom. I am consistently impressed with what class this New Mexico act progresses with, a rotten and aged sort of shambling corpse that’d seem unassuming until it puked its hallucinogenic death noise into my screaming face. I’d intended to review this but I think an EP like this doesn’t need a ton of convincing or my endless blathering to appeal to its intended listener. I think doom metal fans who like some old school mid-paced black metal and black/doom will go apeshit for this.


Artist Fen
Title [Type/Year] Stone and Sea [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

I’d initially discovered the London-based atmospheric post-black metal band Fen with the release of ‘Epoch’ in 2011 and written them off as a sort of folksy and trendy post-black band at the time. You’ll have to understand that the sheer volume of atmospheric black metal stuff had reached a really sickening peak that’d flooded the field a bit and I had no patience for any of it at one point. Today bandcamp surely suffers from a lot of trendy post-black music but bands like Fen have shown some great staying power over the years as they persist and become more clever in their distinction among the waves. They’ve not evolved into pure shoegaze or depressive rock nor have they become a post-metal band entirely but ‘Stone and Sea’ finds Fen working further outside of the realm of folkish past to the point where comparisons to Agalloch and Drudkh begin to make less and less sense. Now, I’d point towards Lantlôs, Heretoir, and at times a bit of Kauan. ‘Stone and Sea’ gives the full range of Fen without giving too much away, it feels like a great epic tale that lacks a third act and I’d assume an album with these leanings is on its way sooner or later. The title track is especially beautiful, giving just enough of an organic folk experience to sate my own senses leading into the shining moment that is “The Last Gravestone”. If you’ve no interest in the collision of post-rock and modern permutations of black metal then sure, this won’t be your thing but for folks who are at least somewhat inclined this is a fine example and an interesting development of Fen thus far.


Artist Bergraven
Title [Type/Year] Det Framlidna Minnet [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

From London we head to Malmö, noting along the way that F. Allain of Fen also worked with members of this experimental black metal band, Bergraven, in a post-black metal project De Arma. The fellows involved in Bergraven formed in 2002 but around 2010 they shifted gears towards atmospheric black metal project Stilla and they’ve focused on that band for most of the decade ’til now. These folks also moonlight in some remarkably heavy death metal bands such as Deranged, Lik, and Nex just in case you needed that last touch of trivia. So what is ‘De Framlidna Minnet’ positing after a decade of silence? Blackened progressive/jazz influenced dark metal. There isn’t a better way to describe their sound, which could pull comparisons to Ved Buens Ende, Dornenreich and Bethlehem on a basal level but perhaps much more divorced from the need for any underground ‘heavy metal muscle’ behind its moody psychedelia. Think along the lines of Nocte Obducta circa 2003 if they’d been touched by modern esoteric prog rock today.


Artist Vargsheim
Title [Type/Year] Söhne der Sonne [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] LISTEN on Spotify

Formed in 2004 and with some slight tumult as their line-up solidified Vargsheim would record their first demo in 2007 a couple years before the trio would essentially become the touring line-up for Imperium Dekadenz since 2009. The Würzburg, Germany based trio have released four albums since and this fourth ‘Söhne der Sonne’ should please fans of modern Nocte Obducta, In the Woods…, Negură Bunget and their mildly folkish progressive black metal sound. I’ve never heard this band before though I do like their almost black n’ roll approach, it is too laid back to sound corny (as groups like Glorior Belli often do…); ‘Söhne der Sonne’ is essentially a take on modern rock with black metal in mind but before you sneer, consider that their style is a bit more upbeat and they’re actually very professional in terms of composition. Vargsheim surprised me quite a bit with this one, it isn’t ‘cheap’ in the way that so many rock-focused black metal projects can be.


Artist Ultra Silvam
Title [Type/Year] The Spearwound Salvation [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Back to Malmö again not for the Øresund breeze but, for some Ultra Silvam stench as this punkish, head-ripping Swedish black metal trio tear through their debut full-length ‘The Spearwound Salvation’. I’ve seen a lot of comparisons to Sorhin and early Watain for this band and yes that is the right level of riff and energy but, I’d almost say Wulkanaz, Svederna, and Voodus comparisons might make more sense. ‘The Spearwound Salvation’ thrives under duress of speed with a critical rawness and density of ideas that feels emergent and thrilling as it blasts from Ultra Silvam‘s hands. I absolutely love the most pure and unrestrained forms of Swedish black metal and as such, I found a lot to like in Ultra Silvam‘s debut.


Artist Shabti
Title [Type/Year] Trembling and Shorn [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

When you fire up ‘Trembling and Shorn’ I’ve no doubt you’ll think you’ve stumbled upon the most average blackened death nothingness you’d heard in a while but if you give Portland, Maine artists Shabti more than 2-3 minutes to make their case this second full-length from the band should impress. Progressive death metal bass work from Brendan Hayter (Thrawsunblat) eventually reveals itself as a major force within Shabti‘s sound and this comes with drum work from Raymond Capizzo (Falls of Rauros) to back it up. That backbone of the music is a surprisingly progressive death metal fever dream to begin with but, the decidedly black metal performances from vocalist/guitarist Rob Cook (Feral) create a stylistic discordance that is off-putting and compelling in wildly swinging intervals. It all works best without the vocals, which aren’t up to par for modern black, death, or black/death metal standards and it takes a very sophisticated piece of music and makes it sound far more average than it is. That’d be my only serious gripe with the otherwise sharp record, the art direction is a bit weak and the logo is cartoonish but these aren’t a big deal even if they don’t match the serious tone of the record. Make up your own mind about it, but at the very least listen to “The Oracle and the Architect”.

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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