NOTHING BUT BLACK METAL NOVEMBER is not a literal declaration, but rather a short review feature I’ve been doing since 2015 in various venues, initially inspired by friends of mine who’d often spend November only listening to black metal and generally catching up on the releases they’d missed throughout the year. At some point most of my compatriots decided to avoid new releases and instead explore the past but I’ve a wealth of of 2022 releases to give some due attention. // I’ve done my best to showcase the most interesting works that I come across while still presenting some decent variety but choices boil down to what sticks, what inspires or what is worth writing about. These reviews are more easygoing than longform reviews, so relax and think for yourself. — If you find something you dig, go tell the band you like ’em on social media and support them with a purchase! If you’d like your music reviewed send promos to: email@example.com
|TITLE:||Blessed by the Wings of Eternity|
|LABEL(S):||Inferna Profundus Records|
|RELEASE DATE:||June 6th, 2022|
Chilean black metal trio Faustian Spirit formed in 2019 between musicians known for their work in Insurrexión, Perversor, and Funeral Fullmoon. Their debut LP is an impressive, grand work in service to the true spirit of what I would consider the peak of Scandinavian black metal expression between ’91-’94. Dominated by an atmosphere generated between instrumentation which permeates with its own sense of striding, glorious darkness there is no need for “symphonic” interruptions when the vocals, drums and guitar work create a storm of their own in mayhemic harmony. Prominent basslines shape castle-wall scaling riffs which gnash between Swedish anti-kosmische introspection and Norwegian black-naturalistic coldness, interludes on a single acoustic guitar provide a small campfire away from the storm with night sounds and looming percussion otherwise, leading us through an experience not so distant from the best of early Satyricon and perhaps Kvist if we consider the melodic values explored on certain songs, a bit of Dawn-esque romanticism in the back of the mind lingering. “Sanguinem Drakonis” is arguably the piece to set them apart, or at least to stain the mind with this bloodiest spiritual ode to the dark which handily features their best blend of mood and sophisticated yet raw ideals explored. The context of “Sol Intempesta” and “Mystervm Veritas Silentivm” is equally important, though. ‘Blessed by the Wings of Eternity‘ is, for my own taste, one of the best examples of classics obssessed black metal released in 2022, a work which manages to capture its own grey-glowing feeling throughout. Brilliantly consistent, austere-spirited and captivating black metal.
|TITLE:||Des Glaires et des Briques|
|LABEL(S):||Sun & Moon Records|
|RELEASE DATE:||September 13th, 2022|
A bit of a drink, a sharp huff of the piss-stinking streets, and he is off to kill and kill again. Regaling us with tales of fine wine, juiciest slit throats, and murder on the streets after nightfall this French black metal band (who’ve relocated to Montréal, Quebec) return with a second full-length, this time for indomitable Romanian label Sun & Moon. The lyrical themes are a treat if you happen to read/speak French, perhaps more visceral and demented than some might expect, yet the main reason most folks will flock to their trough is the finest strands of lead guitar driven black metal which dominate the experience. Though this is spectacle enough to enjoy the best parts of this album embrace a bit of drunken, bluesy guitar playing, a messy and frustrated spasmed feeling which only arrives in between bouts of kill-songs. The experience reads to me like a dark and entirely tragic film noir, presenting the alleyway kills and booze depressed psychoses as both entertaining sensationalism and perhaps a profound response to the illness that is “society” and civilization. Interpret it however you will, of course, but I’d found this album was a pleasure that’d charmed the jugular out of my neck with a dull blade within moments of giving it a serious listen.
|TITLE:||Oath of Abhorrence|
|RELEASE DATE:||October 28th, 2022|
Italian bestial black/death metal trio Necromutilator manifest a rabid, blasphemic and cavern bound experience on this impressive third full-length album. Their scourging is largely uninterrupted here, reaching a point of critical velocity in terms of speed and opting for a sort of mid-paced burn for most of the record. Their sound has long had hints of South American black/death brutality, a violent and hissing diction I would compare with bands like Force of Darkness or Slaughtbbath while also occasionally revving up to the more Angelcorpse-esque side of war metallic aggression and nothing has really changed drastically for this third record beyond a few more mid-paced breaks in the action for the sake of cutting some different riff shapes. If you liked their 2019 record ‘Black Blood Aggression‘ you’ll absolutely be up for this one.
|TITLE:||The Wolves Howl to the Moon|
|RELEASE DATE:||October 28th, 2022|
This Ecuadoran raw black metal trio managed a heroic enough release schedule between 2019 and 2021 ’til key songwriter, guitarist/bassist Vrolok passed away in 2021 and left a void they’ve since filled with various members from the Pure Raw Underground Black Metal Plague. For this second full-length they’ve employed Argentinian black metal artist Beulenpest (Ages of Blood, Avstral Forest) as songwriter, guitarist/keyboardist along with a few session/guest musicians. I emphasize these various notes up front because they’ve entirely changed the sound of Wampyric Rites if you’d followed them up through that first album, which had a satisfyingly aggressive streak which generally lacks here. ‘The Wolves Howl to the Moon‘ features far more developed yet decidedly underground (not necessarily “raw” or lo-fi, though) sound design, upbeat mid-paced battery, and a heavy soak of delirious and enchanted keyboard murk which generates a decidedly rich and imaginative landscape for these sometimes narrative pieces (see: “The Wolves Howl to the Moon”). Though it is a strange set of both unfortunate and surreal circumstances which ultimately manifest this record if we can properly divorce the mind from it all and bite into the majesty of this thing a bit I think most folks will appreciate the gem they’ve carved out in what appears to be a one-off collaboration between the two main members and Beulenpest (circa 2021). If it’d reprised some of the murderous swings of the first album, or managed to bring some continuity along for the second ride at all, I think this record would ultimately make more sense to the average listener but, eh, the record is still good either way.
|RELEASE DATE:||October 28th, 2022|
Eh, these days I get fewer and fewer submissions from German black metal labels, so, of course I go hunting for releases now and then and the result of a more recent Bandcamp dive lead to a purchase of ‘Tyrannemord‘, the second album from Swiss black metal duo Ateiggär pretty much sold itself. You likely won’t recall that I’d covered their debut album ‘Us d‘r Höll chunnt nume Zyt‘ for this same column back in 2019 and my observations are largely the same. A serious update to the mid-90’s atmospheric/paganistic black metal movement in Scandinavia/Germany wherein enchanting keyboard work, brutal percussion, and some manner of soaring or choral vocals built separately from the black/folk and vikingr metal phenomenon. Here they’ve expanded the depth of their vocal theatrics, emphasizing the dramatic vastness of this uprising with ethereal keyboards/synth, yet not leaving behind the aggressive black metal storm they’d created. With all of the chasmic beauty to behold I’d oddly enough found myself simply appreciating the guitar work this time around, its grinding and whirling motions dipping into some strong heavy metal riffs here and there, “Iserni Plag” being a prime result of writing bigger scenes yet bolstering it all with proper guitar heft, no compromise needed at this scale. The constant comparisons to specific Norwegian artists these guys get aren’t so warranted, nothing so pronounced or concrete in reference or voicing exists herein if you’ve any solid recall of old records, but the spirit of the classics is alight herein nonetheless.
|RELEASE DATE:||October 31st, 2022|
For their debut album this Czechia based trio present a largely instrumental form of modern black metal, deeply detailed and striding-slow melodicism which adds a bit of force to what are essentially floods of atmospheric black metal dictation to start. This means we kick off the album with a nearly nine minute introductory instrumental piece “Skrytá místa”. Alright, well, to be frank I’d just as well never listen to that opener again since it’d been so typical and about as poignant as a college days post-rock song in its intimate nothingness but, of course they’ve only just put the keys into the ignition at this point. Bran comes as a complete alter-ego to what these folks have done prior in various thrash revival and campy heavy metal acts, so it is some surprise that “Tisíce hvězd” manages a sincere enough moderne pagan/black metal feeling within its flowing arc. Rock beats eventually kick up a bit of dust, the big heavy metal riffs start to fly mid-song and sure, I was well convinced to stick around for the rest of the album before the second piece had finished. I’d greatly appreciated how this album demanded a reasonable attention span to absorb, that the tumult of the moment was never quite as grand as the greater picture painted, and in this sense Bran are onto something brilliant here though I’d gotten too lost in their primarily instrumental pieces, the fourth and final track on the album managing a full twelve minute ride. Not so much a love/hate reaction on my part so much as a few moments that’d perked my brain enough to want more of the good stuff, less of the faffing about.
|RELEASE DATE:||October 7th, 2022|
This EP is a good time to consider what I mean whenever I suggest I am “convinced” by an album, not that it is cool enough to be included in my mind palace, nor do I insist any level of talent is necessary for good music to exist, but rather that I hear an “ah ha!” moment foundered through experience within instead of an opportunistic plumbing of possibilities. Well anyhow… Aara have never convinced me but they’ve always managed to get halfway there. This two song EP is the perfect example in two equal halves wherein the buzzing melodic black metal tirade of “Phthonos I” completely enchants with its blustering riffs and frequent rhythmic play, eeking out a deeply atmospheric experience which warms and chills ’til “Phthonos II” slops out a cloying mess of a modern metal song at double speed, a tactless and barked-at piece next to its prettier twin. I’ve no qualms with accessible black metal music, obviously, but the implied feeling seems to drain from everything this band touches no matter how ready for the masses their songcraft manages to be.
|LABEL(S):||I, Voidhanger Records|
|RELEASE DATE:||October 28th, 2022|
The now Portland, Oregon-based ambient black metal adjacent post-doom quartet in Forlesen features folks from a host of brilliant, one of a kind acts (Botanist, Kayo Dot, Lotus Thief) and of course they’ve managed to sustain a brilliant, one of a kind act over the course of two well-celebrated full-lengths, ‘Black Terrain‘ being the second. Of course the first thing folks will note is that this is not black metal beyond its distantly storming atmosphere, the sound here resembling a unique form of atmospheric progressive metal with harmonized vocals as the driving force outside of ambiance, which generates in warm pools of slowly built tension. “Harrowed Earth” does kick up plenty of black metallic dust to start, likely blowing the speakers of anyone who’d cranked up the previous two longform pieces, though the ~13 minute piece eases out of this mode around halfway in. The payoff, the joy and the redemption of this album for my taste all lies within “Saturnine”, an ethereal climb which takes well over ten minutes to begin building towards its glorious final release. If the pockets of beauteous, dark revelation all over this record could sustain or meet-up at their ends more often I’d be blown away yet I’d felt like the path up each hill had me staring at my feet mid-hike rather than admiring the view. Fans of Wolvennest and earlier (dolch) will probably like this stuff even more.
|TITLE:||Holy Thrones Abolition [EP]|
|RELEASE DATE:||October 28th, 2022|
Silesian blasphemic bestial black/death metal cult Profanity Angel aren’t fucking around on this first official mLP release. Their style lands along the lines of earlier Archgoat to start, prominent growling bass and nuclear hot guitar strikes hitting at a constant, irrational blast most of the time. All of this works out pretty well thanks to a solid snare sound and ridiculously loud anti-mix, just as over the top as it needs to be to leave a dent and sound completely mad. The interstitial sound collages herein depict a bloody modern war against all Abrahamic religion and this is especially inspiring in pair with their violent accost otherwise, I am completely on board for the eradication of all God-followers and support this goal a hundred percent. This release does lean a bit more death metal than expected as it pushes on (“Decimate the Holy Tome Scums”) but the effect of the full listen is strong, appropriately maniacal in expression and destructive in performance throughout.
|TITLE:||The Lore of the Cloaked Assembly|
|LABEL(S):||Purity Through Fire|
|RELEASE DATE:||October 28th, 2022|
Cumbrian black metal band Helvellyn comes from the prolific P.G. who’d pulled in members of Thy Dying Light, Volition, and such about a decade ago for this traditional black metal project though they’d not made much of it beyond an EP in 2018 ’til now. The gist of what they’re doing here on this debut full-length is basically ‘Transylvanian Hunger‘ with some of the more kicking bits of albums that’d been directly influenced by it in the mid-to-late 90’s. Simple swaying melodies, droning riffs, and bounding rhythms generally create a mid-paced sense of movement though some of the cymbal work feels mildly artificial or unusually loud per an electric kit. The full listen provides some compelling hypnotic movement and little else as the band generally just “pull it off” in a fairly repetitive showing. Rather than refine their performances or ideas outside of this very well-known realm there is some charm in how unbothered Helvellyn are in presentation of a very straightforward, single-minded release.
|TITLE:||Sold Under Sin [EP]|
|RELEASE DATE:||September 30th, 2022|
It wasn’t that I’d overlooked ‘Sold Under Sin‘ this past September but more that I’d prioritized full-length coverage over mLP stuff, as I tend to do when all the big releases are hitting at once (as they tend to do). You can safely assume that this record rules as much as their debut LP ‘The Triclavian Advent‘ did back in 2019 with the trio’s focus on black/death-scoped speed/heavy metal still very much leading the charge. Production is a bit warmer, more expansive as they drop some of the ancient thrash metal “compression” for the sake of something a shade more bestial in affect, taking us away from a Gospel of the Horns arcane sphere if only slightly. Drums are a bit more distant and the riffs aren’t always lucid but the overall threat sustains its teeth-flashing violence throughout. “Reactionary Angel” is the big song here for my taste.
|RELEASE DATE:||October 14th, 2022|
Firtan is a southwest German black metal quartet who’d begun with a focus on pagan black metal back in 2010 but soon turned towards a slightly more adventurous thread of atmospheric post-black metal as they’d reached beyond their 2016 debut LP. Their second album ‘Okeanos‘ was a bit of a breakthrough record for the group as they’d played into modern metal ideas on a few of the more prominent pieces on the record, this is where I’d generally lost interest in the band. ‘Marter‘ seems to have eliminated those sorts of hooks for the sake of integrating what I’d read as a bit of more dissonant and aggressive breaks alongside a few songs which resemble the adventurous side of labelmates Harakiri For the Sky, and “Labsal” even has a sort of nowadays Enslaved feeling to its upswinging mid-point. I’m not fully invested in the long-term value of this record per my own collection but I did appreciate the slight pivot this record takes beyond the previous, leaning into their folkish, progressive-edge side for longer pieces. The full listen is somewhat uneven, tumultuous and jumbled as they continue to ring indecisive in purpose, but that doesn’t stop the whole event from managing more than a few beauteous, cinematic moments. In fact no doubt the render has something to do with this, I’d not realized that many of my selections for Part I of this feature were either engineered or mixed/mastered by Markus Stock, so, whatever he is doing has caught my ear with some great consistency as I’d collected notable records.
|RELEASE DATE:||October 25th, 2022|
My honest first thought when I saw the album cover for Netherlands-based progressive black/death metal duo Knekelput‘s debut album? “More budget-ass bedroom black metal trash.” and yep, I don’t mind how elitist that might sound #based #blessedbys8n #sassy as I am not above judging a record by its cover, nor is the general public (who are even less interested). That’ll be the rawest truth of ‘Teloorgang‘, no matter what I write about it a grand majority will pass on it because that album cover sucks. Could’ve at least desaturated it, eh. This is the first of many signs that these musicians are lost in contemplation, left to wander in their own imagination and yes, this bodes well for our journey beyond aesthetics but… not particularly well for a lasting impression. The music, then? These are not smooth-brained vibes we’re receiving within the inventive yet entirely stripped-down progressive extreme metal exploration of this record. Some genius-level knots are tied between dissonant/avant-garde black metal and meandering semi-technical death metal precision yet the only atmosphere available to Knekelput‘s work is the mechanical dryness of (likely) programmed drums and the groaning unease of each slow-wrought progression as they steadily unfurl from the wrinkles of their minds into a less-than tuneful reveal. There is no salvation from the decay presented here, a detangling and denatured coda struggling to speak without any certain language in mind, yet the journey into disassembly inspires with unpredictable process rather than thoughtful progress, perhaps the antithesis of the progressive black/death metal record as it turns out, a purely experiential tunnel of obscurity. Not sure it has much to do with black metal after all, but well worth checking out if you’re interested in death metal abstraction in mid-paced intervals.
|TITLE:||Hailing the 90’s Cult [EP]|
|RELEASE DATE:||July 30th, 2022|
Norwegian/Polish black metal quartet Illness have been around since the early 2000’s having released four full-lengths and about as many mLP releases over the years. Their influences are very much rooted in the 90’s black metal spheres and they generally don’t concern themselves with any “progress” made beyond 1999, well, as much should be obvious picking up any album or simply grabbing this latest record, which features a very simple and direct statement up front. Beyond the strong early Behemoth and Graveland covers which are sure to catch your interest right away there is something to be said for the themes and expression of these maniacs who are prone to their own brand of “schizophrenic depressive” feeling infused into all of their work. How does that exactly manifest? Floaty melodic passages, eerie keyboards, and vocals which ring and rasp as if echoing down a great chasm of shattered glass and bones. There is a sort of early Gorgoroth swing to some of their songs, of course “In the Mist of Mornings Battle” is the big show up front with a ton of menacing energy. I especially love their choice of “Call of the Black Forest” for a cover, not only for the sake of that early era of Graveland being so riff intensive but for this type of song being what Illness do best. The perfect sort of “ugly” release for folks who are truly invested in black metal.
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