…From the Tomb 11/23/20: “Nothing But Black Metal November Part IV

…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 fourth of five Nothing But Black Metal November features each containing short reviews for new releases from this month [November, 2020] and a couple leftovers from Halloween. 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: 7.5 out of 10.
ARTIST:SICULICIDIUM
TITLE:Az alámerülés lárvái
RELEASE DATE:November 27th, 2020
LABEL(S):Sun & Moon Records
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

As if torn apart, claws hinged at my xiphoid process and splaying in half the breathy gaseous death from my chest and innards, the horror of the stockpile at the end of the year feels like a mountain of skulls spewing putrid scorn upon my open-wounded end. Alas, I am a foul-stinking creature limited by time itself. Of course you can count on additionally finding Siculicidium‘s latest album on my “best of November” list as they are undoubtedly the most impressive and original black metal act out of Romania in the last couple of decades. Not only have they included their unique tastes and aberrations of black metal into an utmost unique point of view in terms of avant-garde rock, post-punk, and heavy metal interests but ‘Az alámerülés lárvái‘ intends a living and breathing artifact of black metal expressed via a mesmerizing concept album that’d entail an eternal sojourn within Tartarus or, the equivalent abyssal underworld.

In plotting their unholy course through the depths the duo accept no trend, sustaining a raw mental wilderness all their own, and remain devoid of whatever nowadays leadership sustains the sub-genre. Instead we’re given a raw but not obscured sound, a homebrewed professionalism that stumbles only with purpose, to illustrate the imposition of the craggy path taken and never with any feigned naiveté. Art rock progressions, post-punk beats, and early second wave black metal rawness truly make for something transcendent for its ugliness, a profoundly stomped bed of roses and poisoned animals depicting death in severe terms. All of it leads to revelation, “Az alámerülés” (or “The Submergence”) which takes the form of a beauteously dirging and droning black metal/post-punk piece. Your first run through this album will likely involve acclimation to the myriad stylistic notes, time spent achieving the greater wavelength of its raw sound design, and generally getting a sense for what Siculicidium is aiming for this time around. The closing piece is then vital payoff for each idea introduced, representing a dark and emotional illumination as it ends.

“A kút kávája” is undoubtedly just as important for its phrasing as if a storming-in goth rock album were infested with a touch of that Master’s Hammer grittiness, perhaps nowhere near as alt-opera rocking as Root‘s ‘Kärgeräs’ but intending a similar crossing of infectious, apocalyptic rock music and deeply affected ritual black metal music. The effect of this song is unsettling, especially if you’re not yet familiar with the band’s discography where they tend to mutilate and shatter the bones of auld black metal rhythms without fear and typically without damaging the atmospheric values inherent to the sub-genre. “Elidegenedés. tagadás” is immediately something more familiar until it just isn’t, playing with the contrapuntal clang n’ excess of Fugazi while still maintaining the calmest furor of Inquisition in the process. This is where I’d been sold on ‘Az alámerülés lárvái’, the second spin and around the third piece where the charm of the record’s sound and style make for a surrealistic narrator within a story of torturous, adventurous induction.

Brilliant as the juxtaposition of unorthodox arrangements and orthodox sound design is, the major appeal of this record will come from peeling back the skin of it all and discovering the resonance of concept. The album art’s illustrative depiction paired with translation of the song titles will unveil some of this but, the final jeweled depths are found in the lyrics — An adventure I’d encourage those interested to plumb on their own. Esoteric, impervious, adventurous and somehow bizarrely elegant as its story plays out, the hex of this third Siculicidium record is considerable. I’d recommend it.


Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
ARTIST:VARDE
TITLE:Fedraminne
RELEASE DATE:November 27th, 2020
LABEL(S):Nordvis Produktion
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

Another of several unique and impressive black metal related releases landing at the end of this month that’d vexed and impressed me with some immediacy. ‘Fedraminne’ is the full-length debut from Norwegian black/folk metal trio Varde and no doubt they’ve approached this style from an almost entirely unique angle. By avoiding a grand majority of typical expression found in black/folk metal and instead aiming for patient epics inspired by Norwegian romantic nationalism the project immediately stands out. For some context, the trend of Norwegian romantic nationalism was an artistic movement driven by nostalgia for culture and the natural beauty of the country between 1840 and the late 1860’s which’d inspired considerable contributions to art and literature. It is not associated with xenophobia, etc. In terms of Varde, the album’s lyrics are either taken directly from or inspired by a set of poets that’d been key in voicing this celebration of Norwegian cultural identity in the late 19th century. So, of course the result is an album delivered with a notable sense of self that doesn’t allow the greater arc of the album to be presented via predictable traditional melodicism and instrumentation. In fact this is a very modern atmospheric black metal piece that doesn’t hamper its larger musical statements with amateurish production ideals or half-measures of epic sized pieces. ‘Fedraminne’ sprawls and climbs far beyond expectations of a debut as a result.

You’ll feel just as embedded within Varde‘s sound no matter how long each piece ends up being, that is to say that the ~13 minute opener “Kystbillede del I” hits a stride and relishes it just a bit longer than a song a third its length (such as “Forbundet”) yet each piece finds its natural peak at a similar level of resonance. It’ll be quite a trip to hit the second LP and realize they’ve saved a lot of their most distinct and experimental ideas for later on down the road. The title track foreshadows this with its jazzed-out lounging tones but the elektro-black stomp of “Skuld” couldn’t be expected by any stretch. The great strength of the album primarily resides in the 9+ minute epics they’ve focused so much energy into but it’ll be the experimental elektro-lounge ideas explored in the interim that define the full picture. “Kystbillede del II” gives us a slightly more lucid sense of how this would all work together in practice. I’d truly appreciated that this album had much more to offer than what I’d expected of it, the full listen is an absolute trip which I’d vaguely compare with a band like Solefald (think ‘Red For Fire’ or nearby) and Dodheimsgard to some degree.


Rating: 6.5 out of 10.
ARTIST:YMIR
TITLE:Ymir
RELEASE DATE:November 13th, 2020
LABEL(S):Werewolf Records
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

Ymir is a Finnish pagan black metal project started back in 1998, making it one of the earliest projects from brothers Lord Sargofagian (Baptism) and Vrasjarn (Profetus) who would put out demo tapes ‘Trollsword‘ (1999) and ‘Silvery Howling‘ (2006) before an extended hiatus. Both of those demos line up perfectly with what their self-titled debut is doing today twenty years later and this is a bit of a feat in and of itself. Proficient skill on the guitar surely shines through today alongside some considerable self-education in melodic development but these are functional subtleties to help avoid a naïve sound. Each of the two musicians are quite seasoned and capably focused on 6-8 minute triumphant melodic pieces with atmospheric keyboard accompaniment throughout. It won’t necessarily replace classic albums like ‘Fra underverdenen’ on my shelf but folks who love the straight forward side of pagan black metal will be instantly connected to what Ymir are doing.


Rating: 7 out of 10.
ARTIST:PREZIR
TITLE:Depredation
RELEASE DATE:November 19th, 2020
LABEL(S):Self-Released [CD]
Dread Records [Tape]
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

For their second full-length Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based black metal band Prezir slim down to a trio for an independent release and perhaps this process pulled the best focus from the songwriters because ‘Depredation’ is the most melodic and technically sharp release from the band to date. Featuring members of Shroud of Despondency, Khazaddum, and Pig’s Blood yet not sounding a bit like any of those other projects Prezir are clearly pulling from a most regal set of influences as they invoke earlier Destroyer 666 in addition to their established Emperor influenced guitar work as well as some vocal and rhythm arrangements inspired by faster pieces from Absu. Standout piece “The Falcon and the Lionheart” exemplifies this range of influences and what Prezir do best on this record, clearly the melodic voicing here is a grand improvement.

The exploration of theme that ‘Depredation’ attempts involves examples that encourage meta-thinking on history itself, examining who decides what is history and intending to suggest how this affects personal education and the perception of philosophical ideas throughout time. It sounds complex but that’d be one of the best parts of Prezir, sitting with the lyrics and figuring the broader statement made with each one. I don’t have many flaws here to pick at, I mean the arrangement of “Deprivation Doctrine” is a little bit repetitive and I didn’t like the cover art personally but the album is absolutely impressive otherwise.


Rating: 6 out of 10.
ARTIST:VALRAVN
TITLE:Prey
RELEASE DATE:December 4th, 2020
LABEL(S):Primitive Reaction
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

Here is perhaps a point of great frustration I’ve had with Finnish black metal of this sort this last year, none do it as well as Sargeist has past-or-present. It is time for some kind of paradigm shift to keep the thousand bands across Europe that sound exactly like that developing their own sound further. Just as I tire of listening to the same bedroom-sized raw black metal patterned records a hundred times, so do these gorgeous leaping melodic black metal releases begin to tire my psyche. Now, from another perspective this means this influence is a common phenomenon, a trend that has enough merit to find so many musicians taking compositional cues and common techniques back to known realms ad infinitum. From a third perspective this debut from Finnish black metal quartet Valravn, ‘Prey’, is an entirely lovely version of that sickly pale melodic dance we’ve gotten to know so well. “Conjuration” is the piece to convince that they’ve some insight to offer beyond the very typical melodic expression of “Void”. There are absolutely more high points along the way, my favorite being “Treachery” near the end of the record, and that’d lead into the fourth perspective on offer: Even the most expected artistic specificity will ultimately benefit from varietal human expression. That said, ‘Prey’ doesn’t yet reach the heights of bands like Aethyrick and White Death just yet. A solid enough listen nonetheless.


Rating: 6 out of 10.
ARTIST:PRECARIA
TITLE:Nigraluminiscencia
RELEASE DATE:November 27th, 2020
LABEL(S):I, Voidhanger Records
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

A (thus far) career spanning compilation coming primarily to vinyl, ‘Nigraluminiscencia’ is a collection of pieces from Mexican occult black metal act Precaria‘s two split albums ‘Metamorphosphoros’ with Dominus Ira and Deathspiral of Inherited Suffering as well as the recently released ‘Theosulphuros’ with Ôros Kaù. The compilation also reveals the full cover art (from the indomitable Ikonostasis Art) which was indicated in halves between the two split releases. Although the drum production is inconsistent between the two sides the compositions work well enough across the board that it feels like a second more serious album from Precaria. In terms of what the project has to offer occult/avant-garde black metal I’d say the great strengths of the project lies in compositional detail which are typically delivered with directional sense and rarely rely upon dissonance to dig out of any flawed thread within the greater arrangements. This means the longer the song the more interesting the detours taken with “Ex Nigredo” being the most important piece of the bunch. If I’m being brutally honest, I’m more likely to buy this for the artwork than the music itself.


Rating: 7 out of 10.
ARTIST:ÔROS KAÙ
TITLE:Imperii Templum Aries
RELEASE DATE:November 27th, 2020
LABEL(S):I, Voidhanger Records
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

The vinyl issue of this mid-June released occult black/death metal record from Belgium-based artist Ôros Kaù turns out to be the essential edition thanks to new cover art and in contrasting his split with Precambria with this material. No doubt the 5-6 minute windows into the mind of the artist on offer here feel quite a bit more present and grandiose than they actually are and much of this stems from the “epic black metal” drum patterns that skitter below the gigantic psychedelic horror of the guitar work, which centers itself via occult black metal rhythms and some blackened death metal riffs and vocals. The release is ultimately a black metal release in spirit but the whole project speaks to an artist possessed and perhaps painting as close to their vision as possible, taking concessions in performance to keep the vision pure. “Belial” is the point where I finally felt like I’d discovered the hidden gem here, the atmosphere of this piece is incredible and the vocals are strangely modulated, gnashed throughout.


Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
ARTIST:MAVORIM / AD MORTEM
TITLE:Iudicium Ultimatum
RELEASE DATE:October 31st, 2020
LABEL(S):Purity Through Fire
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

No question about it, I’ve slept on this Mavorim band for quite a long time, especially considering how much I’d liked their second album, ‘Axis Mundi’, earlier this year. If that record felt it was on the fringe of beer-hall balladry a la Horn, then their material on this ~51 minute split album might tip the foam… If anything I’d been waiting for the chorales to rise throughout. Though the potential for these epics becoming even bigger is a thrilling idea P. (Eisenkult) strikes an effective balance between producing grand yet predictably lain melodies within a simple presentation allows his compositional skills to shine and create their own presence throughout. Few melodic black metal acts today spark such an evocative arc with their threads, it is the best Mavorim material to date for my own taste and each of the three main pieces presented are brilliant.

I know nothing about the other band on this split, another German melodic black metal act, Ad Mortem who have been around since 2017. They’ve released a demo and a split with another unknown to me, Stnzr Cult, last year. I’d additionally loved this side of the split. I had the volume cranked to max before the second song hit; They’re straight into it and fully attacking a melodic black metal sound that is entirely and constantly in consonant motion. If you could envision marching across a great mile long stone bridge between mountains with an armored army while listening to Mavorim then consider Ad Mortem a vision of serpent firestorm across it all. The two bands create this scene with a collaborative track “Vernichtungsschlag (Exitium III)”, this only emphasizes how strong the match up was for this split.


Rating: 7 out of 10.
ARTIST:Essence of Blasphemers
TITLE:Calyx of Black Metal Blood
RELEASE DATE:October 31st, 2020
LABEL(S):Purity Through Fire
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

This raw black metal duo features a collaboration between German musician Tsorn (Donorhall, Necrochaos) and Ecuadoran vocalist Malduchryst as they essentially explore a number of modern and classic raw black metal stylistic endeavors. I’ll be typing the word “raw” a lot here but that shouldn’t indicate the actual sound of the tape, which is crystal clear compared to a lot of music in this style. Riffs featuring punkish, raw, mid-paced and moderately sophisticated tonal play with straight forward early second wave black metal guitar ethos in mind (if not precisely, at all) are on order here and, all things considered, they’ve achieved an entirely satisfying drone as they present. All of this lurches beneath the sickening rasp of Malduchryst, who is a prolific extreme metal musician in general as well as a zine editor. “Massacre” is such a satisfyingly wretched fucking swamp of a song, I’d found myself giving the band the time of day once I’d realized how miserable some of the slower pieces on ‘Calyx of the Black Metal Blood’ were.

Rafn of atmospheric black metal project Hermóðr provides vocals on opener “Ritual” and, although I do like most of his projects, I’m not sure I’d understood the choice of opening with a guest vocalist spot but it is one of the more memorably arranged rhythm guitar tracks on the tape. Comparing Side A to Side B I have to say the mid-paced stuff holds up best, as impressive as some of the faster pieces on Side A are all impact but nothing close to the horror of “Kill the Masses” or anthemic push of “Essence of Hate”. A good impression eventually sticks, though, and this ends up being a surprisingly welcoming listen.


Rating: 7 out of 10.
ARTIST:MRTVI
TITLE:Omniscient Hallucinatory Delusion
RELEASE DATE:November 6th, 2020
LABEL(S):Transcending Obscurity Records
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

MRTVI comes from the mind of Damjan Stefanović as a design of torment where the listening experience conveys its torturous themes through largely dissonant black metal patterned for two guitars, invoking intoxicating sensorial disarray. The modulation is remarkably easy to follow even if some portions of the experience were clearly improvised or very loosely composed. There are several pieces of the experiment that salvage something listenable, repeatable enough that the patterns aren’t (all) meaningless or difficult in reflection. Dual vocal conversations, shimmering piano feedback, psychedelic overtones (and undertones) inquire engaged and complete listening even if it does often feel too “machined” for too-similar bouts of disarray. A piece like “Mass Hallucination” is both intensely lucid and engaging but as it reprises its noisome section in conclusion the sense that I’d been listening to a very good mathcore band did enter my mind. This is the third album from the project and follows ‘Negative Atonal Dissonance’ which was perceived (on my part) as the defining release for the artist based on the extended trio of pieces that filled its ~40 minute length; ‘Omniscient Hallucinatory Delusion’ doesn’t ever fully rest into its deepest pockets by comparison, stringing itself out nearing an hour in length and cutting the song lengths to an average of about five and a half minutes. In some ways we’re getting more potent conceptual pieces out of MRTVI while also moving quickly between them. Some of these vignettes will fly over your head without drugs or a reasonably thrilled mindset so, if you’re not sure where “Invisible Scars” is meant to take the piece it is because the arrangement of each song is conceptually divided into a four chapter theme. The design of this album is meant to be challenging in feeling as three arcs aimed at the listener’s emotional interaction are presented as if they are the human experience distilled to a chaotic extreme. I dunno man, sometimes there are riffs and the whole thing is a trip. My only complaint here is the album cover, the visual is far too simple/obvious too invoke the complex and vexing tirade within. Incredible experience otherwise.


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.

<strong>Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:</strong>

Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.

$1.00