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 constraint 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 releases released in November this year. Consider it my way of making sure I cover as many late year releases before 2019 ends. 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 focus was curated for the sake of many of my friends doing “Nothing but Black Metal November” lists every year on RateYourMusic/Sonemic, I won’t be sticking to only black metal releases as a whole but Ten From the Tomb will be covering black metal for the next four weeks. 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.
|Title [Type/Year]||Nocturnal Bloodlust [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from Primitive Reaction|
Formed by Infernal Tormentor Necrocorpse von Demonblood and schoolmate Ruumisruhtinas back in 2002 as an outlet with intent for ‘pure Nordic black metal’ this raw and ripping Finnish black metal act finally achieve the idea on this fantastically old school black metal debut. ‘Nocturnal Bloodlust’ is clearly striking at the old forge that’d create Darkthrone and Mayhem to start without looking to modernize even as much as say, Horna or Sargeist nearby. Black Beast are wondrous in their storm of raw-edged rapacious attack and to be fair, much of Finnish black metal manages this level of energy; They’re not going to win awards for originality but there is some level of finesse here that offers orthodox structure that is beautifully studied in its olden ways. I’d probably say Eternity (Norway) is kind of the other side of the mirror in recent memory where the old ways were revisited and mutated into something more elaborate whereas Black Beast seeks to be cumulative in their invocation of the ancients. I’d say they exhaust their bigger ideas around the title track but as a full listen it is reasonably short and makes for an easy hit of the ‘repeat’ button.
|Title [Type/Year]||Equanimity [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.0/5.0]||LISTEN on Spotify|
Formed as Örth in 1993, Arvas is the vision of musician Vassago Rex (or V-Rex) who was first known for drumming on the first Aeternus demo and later for vocals in early Dødsfall. So, expect a rolling and fairly brutal sound for Arvas as their sound is very much a product of the early Bergen scene overall. As interesting as ties to Borknagar, Aeternus, and Gorgoroth might be the whole of ‘Equinimity’ is rife with strange choices beg for a more polished sound to match their eccentric jumps in style. “Carven” is probably the first strange moment with its impossibly un-groovy groove but it was the choice to close the album with a black metal cover of Coroner‘s “Masked Jackal” that threw me off the most. It isn’t a bad cover but why not do “Coma” instead? It fits the vibe of Arvas better and allows for some keyboard work. Minor thoughts, I suppose. The drum presence is too middling, the guitar tone lacks any biting midrange for this style, and I never felt like this was the fifth (technically sixth) full-length from the project but hell, I listened to this record around half a dozen times without skipping a song or detouring off to something else because it has that old Norwegian magic buried in its somewhat crookedly balanced fidelity.
|Title [Type/Year]||Lignages Oubliés [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||BUY from Antiq|
Tan Kozh was initially the brainchild of French musician Sven Vinat who is best known for his live presence in Belenos as well as his station as guitarist in Himinbjorg. Though I’d expected a pure pagan or viking metal influenced sound from ‘Lignages Oubliés’ this is something on the more polished and modern end of that spectrum, something akin to Kampfar or a certain middle era for Helheim. There are some superficial folkish stretches that highlight the album but it is the subject of war and prayers to the ancient Gods that had me most interested. The music itself is complete, rounded, and well reasoned but despite the slick production sound and well-woven craft of the songwriting there is little that’d stick in my mind compared to their contemporaries there in France. Extra interest for the use of Breton language and themes. Tons of potential here but I think it’ll be another album or two before this project finds a strong(er) point of view to lead with.
|Title [Type/Year]||Bright Euphoria [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||BUY from Goathorned Productions|
Although Serpens Luminis‘ influences are almost too clear even on the first listen there is much to be gleaned from this occasionally dissonant Swiss black/death metal band. The goal of their characteristic guitar techniques stands very much in line with the current stable of Icelandic black metal groups, particularly those of Svartidauði. What differentiates their sound from peers is probably the cleaner/shouted vocal style found on ‘Bright Euphoria’ which communicates their eldritch faith and an embrace of what I’d call modified luciferianism that heavily features an understanding of the dark within the Kabbalah. It works in terms of imagery though I’d often wish Serpens Luminis worked further outside of the current norm of mixing atmospheric black metal with frantic and brutal occult influences. Engrossing as a textural black metal ritual in service to the broadening of the black flame and the expansion of personal knowledge the treat here is in the vocal performances themselves, which are unique to my ears and a major selling point for further listening.
|Title [Type/Year]||Feeble Psychotic Vortex [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from Nebular Carcinoma|
If you’ve been so focused on the sort of mainstreaming of occultist and esoteric black metal in the last decade no longer let your sight stray from the true dark, the underground circles and non-associative outcasts abound. Spain and Portugal have more recently become host to a vibrant and ever-growing population of young and inspired black metal artists who’re just fine with deep underground labels and lo-fi sound. This has created a thrilling dark that bands like Graves, Black Cilice, and Pa Vesh En have risen from into moderate notoriety. Spanish project Gaua had gotten this EP picked up by Altare Productions (home to small runs of Black Cilice, Turia, Wulkanaz) last year and now it sees an official cassette release through Nebular Carcinoma. At nearly 40 minutes it does feel and play like an album but there is the sense that this isn’t Gaua at full-blast just yet and they’re still developing their already sweetly melodic/atmospheric voice. Of course I’m an idiot and didn’t realize the final 14+ minute track was a Vlad Tepes cover, “Drink the Poetry of the Celtic Disciple”. I believe the strength of this band will be their melodic sense as they develop it. As an introduction to Gaua, ‘Feeble Psychotic Vortex’ is a transfixing and appropriately sullen vortex of charmingly raw black metal.
|Title [Type/Year]||Filth Ouroboros [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||BUY from Hibernation Release|
Cheyenne, Wyoming based black/death metal band Casket Huffer have more or less picked up where they’d left off with their debut album back in 2016. They’ve doubled down on some of the discordance and I get the sense that they’ve been listening to groups like Aosoth while still showing some great affinity for war metal; All efforts in the years between have refined their sound without losing the urgency that made ‘Gospels of Scum’ compelling previous. I’m not entirely impressed by the blast-heavy sections of the record as much as I appreciate when this band slows down and moves away from their more suffocating tendencies. “Genocide Thralls” is one of the better examples of how Casket Huffer get it ‘right’ early in a song and then extend that piece about a minute too long as they figure out the right exit point. That’d be my own real criticism of the album as a whole, I don’t get the sense that each musical statement is either complete or succinct enough for the impact they’re bringing.
|Title [Type/Year]||Total Solitary Instinct [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||BUY from Eternal Death|
A raw and spirited solo project from Valder (Lustrum, One Master) that is as primitive and clangorous as you’d expect, Death Vanish brings out the raggedly atmospheric soul of the Connecticut based artist and bears it wildly once more. ‘Total Solitary Instinct’ is ranting, raw, stifling, suffocating, expanding, and appropriately insular in its focus. The title really says it all, an artist building a vision alone and therein lies its appeal, an oddity from a sole creator unafraid of experimenting with psychedelic crawls and razor sharp whips of auld raw black metal riffing. The combination of the title track and “The Return of Madness and Solitude” really made my week as I loved the rhythmic play throughout. Fantastic developments from this gig.
|Title [Type/Year]||Table of Uncreation [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from Hell’s Headbangers Records|
I don’t think anyone is on the fence when it comes to Havohej, an iconic solo project from Paul Ledney of Profanatica, where the atomic bass sound and dread-inducing drumming from the master have repulsed and allured the underground intermittently for decades. Thrillingly indignant blasphemy might be more of a Profanatica thing if weighed side-by-side but Havohej is no less defiant on paper, point being that there are good reasons to be enthused about a new record beyond rarity and sound. Demoncy, Beherit, and Witchrist are reasonable comparisons for the uninitiated but keep in mind this isn’t going to be a riff album– What Ledney is doing on ‘Table of Uncreation’ primarily involves distorted bass guitar, drums, and keyboards in service to a cavernous black/death metal sound that is somewhere in between black metal, drone metal and death/doom that is a sound all his own. This is by far the best production from Havohej so far and much of that is thanks to the strong presence of the drums, which are miles cleaner than the prior record. For the uninitiated, enter with the expectation of something atmospheric, evil, and ruthlessly primitive in its gut impact.
|Title [Type/Year]||Us d‘r Höll chunnt nume Zyt [LP/2019]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||BUY from Eisenwald|
The collective efforts of the Helvetic Underground Committee out of Switzerland is perhaps one of the best arguments for the existence of elite and exclusive circles in creation of higher black metal art for the masses but I think it’d be fair to say that Ungfell is so far the one piece that has exploded the fastest. Ateiggär is something equally different but also similarly playful with its melodic interest; Fauth Temenkeel and Fauth Lantav’s have collaborate with the intention of exploring paganistic second wave black metal, specifically as the movement approached in the mid 90’s. As a result, of ritual or resemblance, ‘Us d‘r Höll chunnt nume Zyt’ feels spiritual and performative in the same way that Aeternus were but with a light-handed symphonic black metal presence hovering afloat. If you are a fan of Lunar Aurora‘s first two albums (“Weltengänger” and “Seelenfeuer”) and that whole ’94-’98 creative burst of atmospheric and/or symphonic black metal this really is the next best thing, especially if you’d like a more steady pace. Also one of my favorite black metal album covers of the year.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Crossing [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||BUY from Me Saco Un Ojo Records|
A quick spin of Dublin, Ireland based psychotropic raw atmospheric black metal Fuil na Seanchoille‘s second full-length ‘The Crossing’ warranted very little reaction from me. The sound is akin to a bedroom demo circa 2019 and I’d felt like the atmospheric constructs were meaningful but average outside of some kosmiche musik rhythms in the second and third movements of the piece. On the second listen I’d begin to appreciate the ‘ride’ from the ethereal towards bedlam and then back on high that his four movement 29+ minute piece offers. It does feel like another 5-6 minutes were warranted considering ambiance makes up around ten minutes of the full listen but I’d only felt that way because the peak in the middle of the piece was so compelling to start. This ended up being the sort of record I listen to many, many times in a row for weeks and end up having very little to really say about it. Not all of it works, though, and I think it’d make sense to just go straight up Neu! ’75 on the whole idea and push past the disconnected ambient portions.
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