Short Reviews | July 3rd, 2022

SHORT REVIEWS Our first set of July 2022 releases finds us catching up with black metal releases spanning the entire month and picking up two records which are now a month old. Black metal tends to accumulated near the end of the month in terms of releases and this time around I’d rather just get around to all of the timely submissions (submitted before release) while I’m in the right mood. I’ve done my best to showcase the most interesting works I come across while still presenting some decent variety here, but it boils down to what sticks or is worth writing about. If you find something you dig in the lot of ’em, go tell the band on social media and support them with a purchase. The arts require your support and/or own contributions. If you’d like your music reviewed send promos to:

TITLE:Dark Mysteries of Time & Oblivion
LABEL(S):Carbonized Records
RELEASE DATE:June 2nd, 2022

It wasn’t a fluke that Swedish melodic black/death metal caught on, it having been developed by a cross section of riff-obsessed folks who’d largely fallen into extreme metal by way of death metal’s rocket to “mainstream” notoriety, though most had some core education in traditional heavy metal forms before finding themselves at the near-cresting station of the second wave of black metal. Not all of it was golden from 1991-1999, plenty of it was hardly modulated plagiarism even, but the zeitgeist has proven everlasting despite the actual modus blurred via extreme metal’s ever-present game of ‘telephone’ since. Phoenix, Arizona quartet Moribund Dawn had clearly caught the bug for this style at some point within the last few years and gone for it in producing this debut full-length. In aiming for the authenticity of early 90’s melodic black metal and making sure to tighten the regionality of their sound to Sweden with some serious exclusivity these folks haven’t necessarily given themselves free reign to innovate, or to develop any of the masterful tricks and traits we find in the true underground classics of the sub-genre. As such we find some notable imitation of melody within their efforts yet very little of the actual black metal attack.

This means ‘Dark Mysteries of Time & Oblivion‘ ends up feeling like an very sophisticated AI generated likeness of melodic black/death metal, a somewhat surface level dredging through the finer points of Eucharist and/or Dissection-esque lead melodies and arrangements with a saccharine sentimentality, bearing some occasionally too-obvious inspiration in hand. This’d not be a detractor in the slightest for my own taste if their work had the conviction (read: aggression) and the ingenuity of the old standard, as such it is good but not great stuff. The classical acoustic guitar presage of melody used to introduce/interlude a few pieces showcases a basic sense of formal dynamic but once the greater guitar hook is found within the mid-paced fray of the song itself and repeated a handful of times most of these pieces rely on that one thought as the summation of musical statement. It doesn’t end up being quite primitive or sophisticated enough per the major reference of the work. Again, not a huge problem in the long run for a meloblack fan like me, but I’d begin to wonder why I’d personally want a half-speed Gates of Ishtar style record when I’ve got a shelf packed with at least thirty already. A good start and a fine record which is easily enjoyed on repeat, though I’m not sure adds to the zeitgeist so much as it vaguely recalls 90’s greatness by name.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Fragments de L’Esdevenir
LABEL(S):Abstract Emotions
RELEASE DATE:July 1st, 2022

Vidres A La Sang is a progressive ‘blackened death metal’ band that’d largely gotten lost in the shuffle of post-millennium melodic death metal during their initial three album run from 2002 ’til 2010 due to their somewhat unusual non-specific take on the sub-genre, fusing the off-kilter edge of early Opeth and the brutality of Akercocke with their own traditional influences. That first era of the band wasn’t terrible, just atypical in an uninteresting ‘starter band’ kind of way. Though they’d naturally updated their sound and become better musicians in the years between it’d felt like an entirely new band when they’d reformed for a second era in 2018, likely due to key members experience in several other accomplished projects (Sheidim, White Stones, Maleït). ‘Fragments de L’Esdevenir‘ is the second full-length to come from the band’s reformation and I would place this one even more squarely in the progressive extreme metal tank as they’re not necessarily telegraphing any particular death and/or black metal traits in terms of tradition, lending a bent and sombre lean to pieces which seethe and mutter in their own gnarled corner of the universe. Many of the pieces dark out of their cave for intermittent bright spots but it wasn’t until I’d hit the home stretch of album closer “Ara és demà” that I’d understood any one piece of the convoluted musical language Vidres A La Sang were intending to convey. The mood is quite surreal and not uniformly expressed, so, I’d found myself drifting in and out of interest on successive listens and ultimately figuring their intent of expressing fragmented stages of realization (and some manner of admirable detestation of society) wasn’t going to speak to me in any meaningful way without any further context. Something I’ll likely return to once I have the lyrics and a weekend to bite into ’em.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

TITLE:The Suns of Perdition, Chapter III: The Astral Drain
RELEASE DATE:July 22nd, 2022

The four part ‘The Suns of Perdition‘ saga from Ontario, Canada-based black metal troupe Panzerfaust hadn’t caught on with me until ‘Chapter II: Render Unto Eden‘ released in 2020 where it’d become clear that this conceptual narrative was not only going places but that it’d served as vehicle for the band to expand their sound in variously inspired ways under one great arcing meditation. Part three finds the quartet at their most devastated, doomed and atmospherically low though we can still point fans of Sinmara, Funeral Mist, and Kriegsmaschine toward their work, I’d just qualify that with a more atmospheric doomed penitence being served throughout this record. I will probably figure out a way to review each of the four parts in depth as a group if there is a fourth part and that all works out. But I will say that the opposite of ‘diminishing returns’ begins to occur within the momentum Panzerfaust have built over the course of their last three albums, the rewards of engagement only increase with each record. So, it might be a simple way to address such an ambitious and detailed record but… this record is fantastic and essential listening for July.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions
RELEASE DATE:July 1st, 2022

German black metal project Furis Ignis once again excel in craft of guitar-forward and very ‘heavy metal’-leaning regionally anchored aggression (see: Moonblood, Desaster) but this time the production values are intentionally a shade more raw with a modest ‘live’ feeling presence which initially reads as a stab at earlier 90’s black metal modus (see: “Turm”) but, with a more sophisticated musical sense than that’d imply in -most- cases (see: “From Unremembered Dark Pagan Dreams”). Though it is only about six minutes shorter than their full-length debut from earlier this year, ‘Turm‘ is presented as an EP which I suppose implies that these pieces are overflow and interim inspiration, something more abrupt and less calculated than ‘Decapitate the Aging World‘ yet this does nothing to stifle the actual result, which may feel scattershot in terms of theme but yet contains some of the most abrasive and ‘old school’ leaning notions from the project to date. The title track “Turm” is the most regressive piece to start but instead of grinding out the self-interrupting mode of earlier Scandinavian black metal for the sake of folkish quick changes Furis Ignis ties the whole 11+ minute piece together as an ‘epic’ black metal piece, a feat I’d really encourage more of per the dramatic and memorable result and fine bass guitar and synth presence creating some truly crusted and ancient sounding evil. Beyond the obvious enough centerpiece of the record “To Trespass the Commandments of Tangible Being” is likewise a reminder of the fine grit of the guitar work which comes to define the strong capability and taste of the artist.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

LABEL(S):Non Serviam Records
RELEASE DATE:July 1st, 2022

Swedish duo Devil’s Tail have managed a modern, somewhat plastic (malleable, unfeeling) form of black metal on this debut, a style which swings from the dull edged grooves of late post-millennium aggro-rock n’ blackened roll to syrupy, lounging avant-black heaves (“Creeping Terror”) all of which only held my attention for the sake of seeing where the whole of the record went via their adventure of somewhat basic forms. They’ve a few inventive rhythmic turns here and I like the generally hollow guitar sound but the actual black metal riffs and leads didn’t inspire me at any given point. The hypno-rock influence on songs like “Master of Salvation” suggest these folks could probably push things unto a far more ‘mainstream’ or avant-garde sensibility, but it seems they’re not sure what direction to fully press into with all of their might, as such the album ends up reading a bit indecisive, tame and average.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10.

TITLE:From the Dust of Embers
LABEL(S):Sentient Ruin Laboratories,
Nuclear Winter Records
RELEASE DATE:July 8th, 2022

Greek duo Anticreation play a blurry, viscous and blackened style of bestial death metal influenced by the raw aggression of groups like Teitanblood and Pseudogod wherein an implication of ruthless speed is met by mostly readable, swaying rhythms which tend to slow down and find a halfway memorable riff now and then. This isn’t necessarily a stunningly new take or texture on that realm but obviously a serious entry into it from members of Burial Hordes, Enshadowed and various other groups, a pedigree which doesn’t implicate style so much as the idea that they are pros whom don’t really miss a beat, keep things mostly interesting, and have their merch, gear and all that locked-in. I’m not too hung up on originality in this case, though it feels like the sort of record we’d gotten a shit-ton of up ’til about ~2014 or so, excepting the production values which are sharp with a well-rounded low end that gives the whole thing a satisfying sort of roar throughout. A fine record, well above average work which checks all the boxes for style and presentation, but one which does little to stand out in mind beyond being ‘one of those‘ with choice atmosphere.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TITLE:Walk Between Worlds
RELEASE DATE:July 22nd, 2022

Although this New Jersey-borne solo project is presented as progressive/post-black metal it is not at all “metal”, or heavy in any sense, and I’d found this to be an annoying, careless way to make a first impression. Instead this projects second album showcases a moody blend of largely instrumental post-rock influenced neofolk, alternative rock, and a few pieces of heavily atmospheric progressive rock. The running order here makes little sense to start with two dreamy, aimless instrumental pieces kicking things off. From that point we get “Moon in the Mid-day Sky”, a song which takes a full dip into a very basic progressive-attuned alternative rock songcraft. It is a pretty enough accessible piece, borrowing a bit from the 90’s acoustic jam/heroin comedown adjacent to the rise of roots rock but it comes without any relevance or context to its surrounding pieces to start. The larger idea of the album and its ethereally charged atmosphere develops into clarity as we press on but, I’m not sure why it’d been pitched as “metal” in any sense, beyond bit of quiet quasi-growling on “Terra Incognita”. Anyhow, setting the first impression aside ‘Walk Between Worlds‘ is a forgettable slow-walk through quasi-spiritual soft rock music with a lovely atmosphere, inoffensive and a bit bland.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

TITLE:The Oath of the Black Wolf
LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions
RELEASE DATE:July 1st, 2022

Heroically cadenced Italian black metal crew Orgrel follow up their debut full-length from late 2021 with an EP much in the same spirit, leaning into a beauteous flowing melodicism we find most often streaming forth from Finnish, Quebecois, and French black metal sects these days. The rhythm guitar work is the main point of interest to start, quite active in generating grand arcs of well-formed melodic half-statements which tend to climb towards the center of an implied consonant phrase and rest at the peak. I’d not found a lot else to say about the EP when I’d say down with it in previews, the quality of their work is (again) quite clear and they’ve done a fine job of curating a somewhat memorable, musically par for the course release.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Archaic Moon Mysticism
LABEL(S):Inferna Profundus Records
RELEASE DATE:July 1st, 2022

Of course the project name and visuals should tip you off but Indonesian artist Jure Grando is a solo vampyric black metal crew whom deal in a particularly raw sound which, in this case is almost incoherently muffled on their debut full-length album ‘Archaic Moon Mysticism‘. The songs here are of demo quality and feature as very simply arranged five minute pieces, most of which feature droning runs of tremolo or single string riff progressions for two guitars. Their “tone” bears some manner of phasing effect, giving the main guitar voicing a sense of uneven tape reeling at times. Screams arrive as harshened, artificially amplified whispers which often blow out the mix as they appear randomly, perhaps only loosely arranged in place. The point is of course to present a damning sound with no musical value beyond a hapless, hypnotic state and in this sense folks looking for this sound will be pleased with the harsh, intentionally lo-fi buzz and hiss of it all. I didn’t feel much of anything for this release, good or bad.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10.

LABEL(S):Purity Through Fire
RELEASE DATE:July 17th, 2022

Turku, Finland-based black metal band Kryptamok comes from Hex Inferi, a fellowe whom has been involved in a fair number of projects since the late 90’s but is best known either for playing bass in Horna for quite some time or as the guitar/electro guy from Scorngrain depending whom you’re talking to. This second full-length album more-or-less represents a direct continuation of their debut LP ‘Verisaarna‘ (2020) with a heavier more aggressive guitar sound, more presence from the keyboards (and in layers) when developing certain melodies (see: “Saatanallinen hävitystaistelu”), and a general expansion of that core idea beyond a basic revival of mid-90’s Scandinavian black metal dread. The full leans a bit post-Emperor symphonic in very small hints and swerves to start and eventually goes a bit psych-nuts by the time my favorite piece “Outo Kuningas” pops up. A few interesting surprises on an otherwise solid follow-up.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

LABEL(S):Dawnrazor Records,
Ketzer Records
RELEASE DATE:July 15th, 2022

Hexerei‘ is the seventh full-length we’ve gotten from Brazilian black metal group Patria since they’d formed in 2008, still aiming for a generally 90’s spawned modus but dialing up their accessible melodic guitar work and intensifying their use of keyboards compared to their last few releases. Seen as a continuation of guitarist/bassist and main composer Mantus‘ black metal band Mysteriis early on there is little sense in arguing away the comparison, especially with this album in mind since it bears his signature so heavily. Though most of this album reaches for pretty standard nostalgic fare there are a few pieces which are admittedly basic in terms of riffcraft but still hold strong enough appeal, such as the pairing of “Consecration” and the very catchy “Storm of Wilderness” in the middle of the album. I appreciate when bands do such a fine job of keeping this level of craft alive though this record doesn’t make a wild case for ending up on my shelf with anything outside of the ordinary, though I do find the keyboard work very well done and successful in its tempering of atmosphere.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

TITLE:Esoteric Atavism
LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions
RELEASE DATE:July 1st, 2022

Known for their forlorn, claustrophobic tone influenced by the ugly wave of LLN during the 90’s the Portuguese raw black metal reality continues to yield rare bouts of mystifying atmosphere and the occasional possessed melodic streak from its deep underground. Black Cilice aren’t the sort of band you’ll know well enough after just one song as they’ve always treated full-length releases as ventures of various aspect rather than plainly directed, or, droning thought. ‘Esoteric Atavism‘ highlights this from pieces to piece, stepping tones to various delirium and darkness which often arrive upon appreciably beauteous or terribly abrasive droning fuss but always managing to set a dark, obscured scene in mind. The last three records of theirs have developed simple yet quite strong bursts of musical value, buried in intensive ways which reward those willing to cup their ear and allow the painful immersion involved with sussing out the calls of their depressive miasma. “Channeling Old Power” is a fine example wherein the riffs -do- eventually arrive and the destructive sound design of the album begins to share its melodic voice in a profound way. There are plenty enough raw black metal bands whom arrive upon an ugly or uniquely burnt black sound but a project like Black Cilice have been consistent in placing value within the commotion of said raw obscurantism.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TITLE:Tales of Doom and Ignorance
LABEL(S):Subcontinental Records
RELEASE DATE:June 1st, 2022

Unusually-paced moves, odd choices of angle-shot coloration with eerie traits abounding, and yet with an knowing eye shining through with an easily read, enjoyably paganistic modernist voice this fifth full-length from progressive black metal act Ophidian Forest manages to loose itself into the flow of ideas they’d generate and get lost, or, extra immersed in longform pieces which highlight the experiential prog-ebullience of ‘Tales of Doom and Ignorance‘. If you’d likewise felt their previous album ‘votIVe‘ landed a bit more unleashed, on a tear, and savored that feeling I believe you’ll feel the flood of similar-yet-different fusion occurring in the wake of this follow-up. My appreciation for this record fully blooms in the midst of the peaking fanfare of “Earth Force” just beyond its central point of respite, deep within said piece which I’d found myself leaving on repeat for inordinate amounts of time, basking in its details and frothy pushiness to an unusual degree. Imaginative and redeeming oddity which fits the progressive tag well as a point of purpose.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

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