…From the Tomb 11/16/20: “Nothing But Black Metal November Part III

…FROM THE TOMB is a weekly feature in the form of a list grouping short reviews for albums selected from the current weeks new releases. These albums were overlooked for full review for any number of reasons with the most common reason being constraint of time. I try to cover as much 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: grizzlybutts@hotmail.com

Here I present the third of five Nothing But Black Metal November features each containing short reviews for new releases from this month [November, 2020]. This ends up being the most effective way to cover as many releases from 2020 in a timely fashion so things don’t bottleneck at the end of the year. Most of these albums made it here to …FROM THE TOMB due to time constraints for processing long-form reviews or because a paragraph or three’s worth of insight was all that was necessary. If you’re not into the selection this week, relax! This’ll be back every 7 days with more new releases from different styles, genres, etc.

Hey! Don’t dive in thinking this will all be shit just because these records aren’t getting full reviews. Quality control is an important part of this process, lasting value is the major goal in approaching each piece. Thank you! I am eternally grateful for the support of readers and appreciate friendly and positive interactions. 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.

Rating: 6 out of 10.
RELEASE DATE:November 20th, 2020
LABEL(S):Les Acteurs De L’Ombre

Spectrale began as the solo vehicle of musician Jeff Grimal who is best known for his role as second guitarist/vocalist in post-black metal group The Great Old Ones until 2018 and today we will be viewing it from the black metal-adjacent position as ‘Arcanes’ is a post-rock influenced record treated with extensive neoclassical guitar works and some general neofolk pieces. The “body” and brightest arrangements on this record are those that center around 2-3 guitars and some exceptional work from cellist Raphaël Verguin. Beyond Verguin each other actor is a current or former member of Grimal‘s former band and they’ve all collaborated with some instantaneously appreciable collective timbre that speaks to both cinematic qualities and what I’d consider folk orchestration, vaguely neoclassical pieces that create a functional vibe without relating to a larger work or each other in most cases. The clockwork syncopation of “Le Pendu” as it dissolves is the best example of where I’d felt this album doesn’t work, not because the piece itself is lacking in any sense but for the sake of its lacking interrelation with the surrounding pieces, it seems to be going somewhere quickly yet ends up being a vignette of “background” music. If only each piece were as strong as “Le Bateleur”, which features Laure Le Prunenec (Igorrr, Öxxö Xööx) on vocals, where a haunting progressive folk spirit inspires beyond most of the pieces before it due to the inventive vocal arrangement and Spectrale‘s ability to play off of it. For today’s purposes it is a gentle lead into the sort of black metal that releases in late November, on a broader wavelength it is a lovely admixture of post-rock and neofolk from the post-black metal musician mindset.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
TITLE:Graven til Måneåpenbaringer
RELEASE DATE:November 23rd, 2020
LABEL(S):Inferna Profundus Records

So the big trend in Instagram black metal nerds in 2020, as if the year weren’t abysmal enough, is the development of several orders of Les Légions Noires wannabe raw black metal cults who’ve realized people will pay quite a bit of money for limited run vinyl, no matter the quality or true intent of the music. Because this trend is directly harmful of all the right people, trend-chasing collectors with a lot of money and no keen ear for passion… I am all for it. Now don’t think I’m lumping Gryftigæn and the rest of their Chilean Pure Raw Underground Black Metal Plague in with this kind of stuff but rather I’m citing their work as an example of an order doing something with the lo-fi aesthetic that translates to something worth owning or, listening to at the very least. Don’t recognize them? You might remember I’d reviewed Pyreficativm years ago or their other band 13th Temple, both of which I am a big fan. Granted this second release, ‘Graven til Måneåpenbaringer’ is dedicated to a different sort of dark art focused upon ‘horror behind the wall’ sounding raw black metal where it is so atmospheric and lost to digital reverb that all movements amount to vague tremolo-picked melody and waves of rasped vocals.

7-9 minute songs with very straight forward atmospheric black metal guitar arrangements provide all vibe and no particular specificity, implying movements rather than ripping through them. Crank it up all you want, you’ll find very basic innards implied or otherwise. This only works in Gryftigæn‘s favor when their melodic device is truly sinister, “Circle of Twofold Attraction” is the best example of Lord Valtgryftåke nailing his craft with a composition that is simple yet tailored to cut through the noise of it all with a riff (or two) that grips the mind after it leaves. Yes, it is a simple Burzum riff that’d have been accompanied by ten more back in 1992 but, we live in a much more dire world today. These guys have won me over by sheer will of engagement, putting this record on for a few hours achieves an effectively blurry black metal trance even if none of its motions truly make any sense of their world.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.
TITLE:To Walk the Path of Sorrows
RELEASE DATE:November 27th, 2020
LABEL(S):American Decline Records

Here we have an entirely different perspective, set of experiences, and approach with a similar ethos when it comes to sound design. We’ve another sonic black metal burial intent on death worship that demands the ear focus upon the hidden brutality and melodicism within. Obscurae is Chad Davis who as been a prolific musician involved in all manner of extreme metal projects since the early 90’s but is best known for his doom metal project Hour of 13. ‘To Walk the Path of Sorrows’ is the second full-length from this project and once again we are provided with a wall of sound meant to embody the fall of night upon the Earth — This means we are flattened by insistent programmed drums, allured by the sinister synthesizer expanse, and only able to discern motion in the shadows of the guitar work. Think of the aura of early Limbonic Art at 230 bpm and churning in the gut of an Ancient One, or an old 2000’s symphonic black metal LP played at double speed without any major melodic breaks.

Without consideration for the die-hard black metal fan I’m not sure the actual sound of ‘To Walk the Path of Sorrows’ will appeal to most folks unless they’re naturally inclined towards odd and brutal takes on sound design. If you are a fan of “blackened” noise, harsh noise, and the potential of those aesthetics applied to an extreme version of black metal then there may be some considerable thrills within but without any direct intention as such. “Into Fullmoon Descent” is where I’ve started to feel like I’m just getting brutally obscured riffs from Emperor circa 1997, a fine feat in theory but for all of the effort buried here I’m not sure I fully “get” it.

Rating: 6 out of 10.
TITLE:Speed Blacking Hell
RELEASE DATE:November 30th, 2020
LABEL(S):Helldprod Records

Krushhammer are exactly what they look like, an evil speed metal group focused primarily upon the witching variety of black-thrashing heavy metal. ‘Speed Blacking Hell’ says it well enough but think along the lines of the first Quo Vadis (Poland) demo for sound and riffs, rumbling post-‘Haunting the Chapel’ rippers that’ve been milled from early Destruction and Sodom worship. The CD version of this 11 minute recording was originally self-released back in early 2019 but they’ve managed a short run of ~80 cassette tapes via this release through Helldprod Records. The title track smokes, probably my favorite riffs overall but “Deathhammer” is the most solid song on offer all things considered. A quick hit of simple but satisfyingly raw Satanic speed metal.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
TITLE:The Black
RELEASE DATE:November 27th, 2020
Nuclear Blast

What do current/former members of Cast the Stone, Pig Destroyer, Misery Index and Cattle Decapitation have in common with Phil Anselmo? Well, it ain’t grindcore most of the time. In fact Scour is ostensibly a black metal entity from a precision-based musician’s point of view, something we’d rarely seen out of Scandinavia until at least the mid-to-late 90’s when triggered drums became a matter of heightened competition for certain sects seeking greater extremity and accessibility. Because of this you’ll find folks equate this “clean” and brutal sound with Dark Funeral and Marduk though the arrangements on ‘The Black’ EP tend towards various technically inclined eras of Mayhem a bit more than usual. None of it is pretty, all of it is brutal and ominous wreckage.

The closer you pull into focus any of Scour‘s recordings you’ll find they’re not any sort of worship but a very clinical study of what makes certain popular European classics of the second wave viable as guitar music and when a gap of meaning or nuance needs filling they’ve typically given it a deathgrind patch, and to great effect. As they machine out increasingly grandiose features from 2000’s black metal and its crossover between “orthodox” underground movements the effect is well, texturally effective but not exactly emotional or fuckin’ weird enough to really hit more than a vaguely familiar mark. Instead the “Ye Entrancemperium” (Emperor) spill and reap of “Doom” feels like a typical thought from a modern underground black/death metal band delivered by musicians who are far more qualified than usual. Just sitting with a record that sounds like this is a kick-and-punch in your seat kind of spastic affair and in that sense Scour is still a damn good time.

The only real criticism I can offer is, fuckin’ go nuts man. ‘The Black’ is so buttoned up and perfectly executed that we’re missing what makes black metal so memorable, the weird off-taste and idiosyncratic choices and freakish demonic summoning that’ll charm and deranged the spikes off the typical heavy metal brat. Or just keep it brutal, I mean I can’t complain about how Scour just hit and run with it.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
TITLE:The Brimstone Clergy
RELEASE DATE:November 30th, 2020
LABEL(S):War Anthem Records

Anonymous black metal trio Serpents hail from Örebro, Sweden and aim their swords at a very specific era of Swedish black metal circa 1998-2000 where bands would move towards greater brutality via inhumane blast beats without yet losing their melodic edged sound. Consider Marduk‘s ‘Nightwing’, Setherial‘s largely forgotten ‘Lords of the Nightrealm’ and even Watain‘s ‘Rabid Death’s Curse’ as records hailing this balance with slightly more severity than we find on ‘The Brimstone Clergy’. Perhaps my favorite album in this style that is long forgotten is In Battle‘s self-titled record from 1997 and I hear both vocal and guitar ideas on Serpents‘ two EPs that are actually decent matches given the years in between and the more laid back approach by this band. This is a matter of technique and sensibilities I suppose, but I think it is a good reference point for what the band aims for and where they land. ‘The Brimstone Clergy’ is most successful when breaking into their more melodious mid-paced pieces, such as “Shattered Pieces” and “End the Slavery of Being”; I would primarily focus in that direction for maximum lasting impact or hope for a reasonable lean that way on a full-length. A general improvement on all fronts since their first EP.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
TITLE:Devil’s Paradise
RELEASE DATE:November 27th, 2020
LABEL(S):Hell’s Headbangers Records

Damnit, here I was hoping to brush at least one of these records off and instead ‘Devil’s Paradise’ had to have those goddamned killer cathedral-burning keyboards all over its esoteric grinding stomp. Black Death Cult self-released this debut full-length via their own Serpents Head Reprisal imprint last year via cassette and a double LP but they’ve gone to Hell’s Headbangers for the CD issue of the record. Their sound, spearheaded by Rephaim Spectre (Antediluvian) entertains the haunting presence of a band like Cultes des Ghouls as they incant the cryptic folkish avant-black of Master’s Hammer in a slightly more modern setting and put an occasionally dissonant spin on those movements. It is as much of a messy affair as it sounds and yet a truly entertaining cabinet full of curious horror film energy as a result of using keyboards as a central driver with the guitar supporting the basal rhythms in most cases. ‘Devil’s Paradise’ isn’t a ripping black metal album so much as it is a creeped-out and crawling experience intending its narrative and atmospheric tics to make a strong case for a few spins. I largely stuck around for the keyboard work and the dirging quality of songs like “Captor of Perception” and nearly campy swing of “Living Temple”. Horrifying, doomed and all the more interesting for the odd sub-genre niche it dances into.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10.
RELEASE DATE:November 19th, 2020

Hegeroth are a Polish black metal band aiming squarely for the classics of the mid-to-late second wave in the late 90’s, their third album finds them swerving from a simpler stomped-out mode into more fluid riffing which typically builds some manner of melodic nuance or atmospheric respite within each song. Their sound and arrangements are typical but that doesn’t mean they’ve totally avoided their own inventions, largely resting upon smaller details to dignify each song presented. I’d found this record perfectly average, emulating some of the better aspects of classic Scandinavian black metal but perhaps none of the fury or fire that’d make the second wave special. Instead we get performative pieces that exist in the intended fashion but don’t hold up well upon repeated listening.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
TITLE:The Dying All
RELEASE DATE:November 27th, 2020
LABEL(S):Auric Records

Hailing from the South Holland region of the Netherlands Dodenkrocht was initially formed as a solo project around 2004 with a focus on combining the atmosphere of extreme doom metal and black metal with some uncertainty whether or not a pure focus in this direction was necessary. I say that because each album from that point tended to be something entirely different from the last, starting with a funeral black/doom demo tape in 2007. ‘Zwijgend Als Het Graf‘ and the debut album they’re release after were records I’d equate with a much prettier Nortt for lack of a better description. Their back catalog is not largely available anymore but if you gather pieces from their previous three albums each builds upon an element that inspires the mid-paced, doom influenced black metal of ‘The Dying All’. Shades of DSBM still exist threaded through the album’s dirges but this time around it’d be fair to give Dodenkrocht credit for their own strong variation of truly pensive and extended blackened, doomed movements.

What strikes me most in reflection upon the full hour listen of ‘The Dying All’ is that it doesn’t necessarily feel like an excessive move, perhaps because of the patient insistence of its compositions. We are greeted by the sheer wall of three 8-10 minute songs up front and somehow this is more meditative than anything else Dodenkrocht take a minimum of cheap shots at truly sorrowful melodies and instead strive for glassy-eyed dissociation, the tired and strained mind in view of death or, some existential collapse. There are some light shades of Urfaust in the ever painful vocal work throughout but more frequently beyond “Barbed Wire Crown” as semi-melodic dark metal pieces (a la Karg) cross with exasperated black/doom moments. “Before the Grey” and “The Vortex of Being” are probably the most effective showcase of what the band has to offer beyond the trio of dirges that kick off the album. Considered as a whole the experience could be numbing or devastating to the right pair of ears, I’d found ‘The Dying All’ could’ve lobbed my head off if they’d pull back on the vocals more often and let the pieces breathe their already quite effective core statements; If the beast must rattle its chain non-stop, there’ll be less sympathy from its jailer. A moderately high recommendation.

If I missed your favorite album from 2020, whoa! E-mail me or hit me up on Instagram if you want me to review it. If you’re in a band and you want a review of your latest, hit the Contact page and send me a copy, I’ll consider it.

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