Ten From the Tomb 6/17/19: L’esprit hantant le sol.

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 modern and inherently ambitious black metal albums from early-to-mid 2019. Consider it a small glance at the high bar that is set every day among musicians who look beyond cursory patterns and guitar techniques, to bare complex souls through deeply personal black metal music. 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 look for expressive, meaningful, or just damn heavy releases that hold value without gimmickry or bland plagiarism. This weeks picks come directly from my own curation but every other week I conduct a poll on PATREON where patrons can vote on the sub-genre or subject of the list. This time around I selected some interesting modern black metal that holds a spirit of ambition within darkness, music made for the individual. 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 Laetitia in Holocaust
Title [Type/Year] Fauci Tra Fauci [Full-length/2019]
Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Though it had gotten lost in the mad dump of releases towards the end of March this year Laetitia in Holocaust‘s third full-length ‘Fauci Tra Fauci’ certainly deserved a spin and I’d thankfully not entirely passed it by. The Italian duo suggest a paradox of influence as compelling as their name between classic avant-garde black metal such as Ved Buens Ende and modern movement-rich acts like Woe. ‘Fauci Tra Fauci’ reads a bit like a semi-melodic German black metal album (circa 1996) at first, something like early Dornenreich or Nagelfar at certain points but as those melodic peaks rest within tracks like “Through the Eyes of Argo” so pops out a progressive bass guitar tone and the beginning of a precarious ride through the colonnades of modernist black metal that compares favorably to more recent Krallice. It goes a bit weirder than that with the uh, piano driven neofolk-ish track “Exile” at the heart of the album. I did end up liking this, my introduction to Laetitia in Holocaust, quite a bit. Compelling throughout.


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

Utrecht, Netherlands has long been a source for compelling black metal though more often for their most brutal side beyond some rising stars in the atmospheric black metal realm. Originally formed as Woudloper around 2014 the ‘Bodemloos’ EP in 2016 would mark the name change to Verwoed as founder, songwriter and performer Erik B. found his home at Argento Records. ‘De Val’ is a bit occult in its dissonant and growling atmospherics but the reach of this five song 32+ minute album is often progressive as its bounding mid-pace creeps and crawls forward. The bass guitar tone is fantastic throughout, often coming to the front of the mix as a writhing cylinder of metal-on-metal electric percussive force. That menacing tone builds towards the end and then loops back to the title track that kicks things off making for an easily repeated and relatively brief listening experience. The music within is just challenging enough that it might’ve felt like less of an addictive substance were the album ten minutes longer. The painting on the cover and the whole of the packaging is striking, simple as it might seem, and it easily grabbed my attention from across the room.


Artist Aethyrick
Title [Type/Year] Praxis [12″ Vinyl/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

A relatively new project from an anonymous Finnish duo, Aethryick offer a distinct form of melodic black metal from the Satanic perspective with this their debut full-length ‘Praxis’. The best reference for their sound, in my opinion, is probably later Arckanum for the sake of their subtler melodies and spiritual leanings, though ‘Praxis’ features far more symphonic black metal elements despite its mid pace. I’d wanted more variation in the vocal performance and the restful atmosphere of the album becomes a bit sleepy on the full listen. Otherwise this is a fine black metal album with some of my favorite art direction in recent memory. The album was originally released in 2018 but the vinyl version is the one I’m interested in and that was a 2019 release so, it should count for the list!


Artist Time Lurker / Cephide
Title [Type/Year] Split [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

I’d found Strasbourg, France black metal artist Time Lurker‘s debut full-length somewhat underrated back in 2017, enough to include it on a list of underrated black metal albums. So, I am glad to hear from the band again and this time with a bit clearer recording but the same eminently atmospheric black metal sound. His opening track on this short split is inherently depressive “No One is Real” feels sullen, spacious but compressed by the stresses of life. The influences from depressive black metal’s origins are clear but not as weirdly over the top, thankfully. Parisian atmospheric black metal band Cepheide are complimentary in style with a bit more of a Woods of Desolation-esque sound that comes as just one 19+ minute track. It feels as if I would fall off of a railing were I to shut my eyes as I listen. A big, gorgeous chasm reveals itself as the guitar work sprays over the whole of Cephide‘s sound. I’m not sure how excited I am to hear more from them, but I am hoping both bands have full-lengths to come so they can showcase their own styles more clearly than this short (by atmospheric black metal standards) split.


Artist Se Lusiferin Kannel
Title [Type/Year] Valtakunta [Reissue/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Originally self-released in 2017 about five years after Se Lusiferin Kannel initially formed, ‘Valtakunta’ is well worth bringing to the greater masses in 2019 with new artwork and the backing of Signal Rex. This Finnish band can be likened to labelmates Degredo in the sense that they create 15+ minute songs that are heavily atmospheric, raw, and brilliant in their immersive qualities. This is not such an ugly affair beyond the harsh lo-fi sound, which should make Paysage d’Hiver fans quite happy if they are patient enough. If the sound of a 1930’s Finnish cathedral being haunted by the ghosts of bug-vomiting nuns were to come to life, it’d have to have a theremin like the one used in opener “Edes Vedet Eivät Saa Rauhaa”. I’m often somewhat annoyed by repackaged black metal albums as they rarely warrant the effort, in this case I understand the need to signal boost as this band are a complete unknown: No names, no location beyond Finland, just raw epic black metal with plenty of keyboards and spooky theremin.


Artist Meslamtaea
Title [Type/Year] Niets en niemendal [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Formed way back in 1998 the duo of Netherlands based duo Meslamtaea were born strong but had proven themselves just a bit ahead of their time back in 2005 with their debut ‘New Era’. Members would spend much of the gap between releases focusing on Asgrauw, who you’ll remember from this column a while back. ‘Niets en Niemendal’ is a very complex and emotional listen, a bit like a post-hardcore gush of emotion that is often sustained for five minutes at a time but often presaged with melodic death/doom and avant-atmospheric metal sections. It is all constantly climbing towards something, elevating and building towards a crash that will hurt or (sometimes) confuse. I feel as if I am in the wilderness but I can still smell the smog and the sewers of the city, that I cannot get away from the horrible realities of man even at rest with the Gods. I rarely indulge in truly challenging black metal because it reeks of pretentiousness that either goes over my head or involves a culture I’d never understand, in this case there is a lot that translates beautifully and even the Austere-esque screaming is pleasant. Not even a second of the album is ‘orthodox’ so, approach with caution!


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

Though they begin sounding a bit like a crossing of early Agalloch and later Grand Belial’s Key it soon comes to surface that the slightly more capable finesse of Mavradoxa‘s guitarists is perhaps more influenced by classic rock, heavy metal than it is Cascadian black metal or otherwise. These fellows hail from Rochester, New York and ‘Nightmarrow’ is their third album since forming in 2015. I love when black metal is written so clearly for two guitars and takes full advantage of different techniques and sounds to flesh out the full listen. Nechochwen and Skagos come to mind when looking for similar species but, neither have the same root ethos as Mavradoxa. “Maple” is such a fine, warm introduction that I didn’t recover from it for a month or so. I did eventually listen to the rest of the album, but I’d admittedly reach a point of glorious stasis within “Maple” and only want to be there, over and over. The almost… Thin Lizzy-esque dual guitar harmonies of the song are something to behold and it makes for quite a first impression. The rest of the album does live up to that song but man, was it hard to look past that first piece.


Artist Amiensus / Oak Pantheon
Title [Type/Year] Gathering I & II [Compilation/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Progressive black/dark metal metal band Amiensus and atmospheric post-black metal band Oak Pantheon both bring smoothly accessible ultra-melodramatic refinement to this collection of their two splits ‘Gathering I’ (2013) and ‘Gathering II’ (2018). The first split introduces the style of each band with a bold progressive touch in the hands of each. Cormorant, A Forest of Stars, and perhaps a bit of Fen could all be used as comparisons. For the second split it becomes clear that both bands have gone off the deep end with their esoteric and epic styles of progressive black metal. “Tanequil” generates some extra interest for being a full collaboration between the two bands for ‘Gathering II’ and well, I’d say it isn’t the best track from these sessions but it is profoundly different than the rest of the material on the compilation. This isn’t necessarily my style of black metal but it is nonetheless impressive that each band had developed so much in the five years between these two sets of recordings, it is worth checking out for that alone.


Artist Starless Domain
Title [Type/Year] EOS [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Much as I enjoy the fluid nature and intense atmosphere of an album like ‘Eos’, which manifests as a single 59 minute song at some point it all becomes a blur of repetitive shrieking deep space sound effects and guitar runs. If you’re already familiar with the ‘cascadian’ version of this from the same artists in Stellar Descent and you’re all on board for that, you’ll be happy for this differentiation. Though I sound perturbed by it, I enjoyed ‘EOS’ if not for the eagle-shrieking sound that is repeated at least once every 2 minutes throughout the entire record. I grew weary of the composition being somewhat randomly generated, but I don’t want to be immediately cynical about such a large undertaking. The clear reference here is Darkspace (particularly ‘Darkspace III’) but from a less rigid atmospheric black metal angle and without the force-forward attack of that band. They’ve done a good job of invoking that sound but still mutilating it so that it doesn’t just feel like an imitation. I’m interested to hear the cassette version of this release as it will feature this album on one side of the tape and then apparently feature a synth version of it on the other.


Artist Chernaa
Title [Type/Year] Empyrean Fire [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Chernaa are a five piece post-black metal band based out of Prague but hailing from Ukraine and Russia as well. When I say post-black metal, what exactly do I mean? Well, some form of modernist atmospheric black metal with heavy melodic tendencies, not unlike early Wolves in the Throne Room or Deafheaven but not quite as corny alt-rock as say, Numenorean. This type of music has a tendency to devolve into modern melodeath cliches without knowing it and thankfully they don’t go there with ‘Empyrean Fire’. I don’t think this is as compelling as the post-black coming out of the Netherlands today but it is a bit heavier, so if you’re looking for something with a burning edge this’d be a great choice.

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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