Doom travelers Domovoyd look inward, take psychedelic voyage of self and world destruction

DomovoydApparently the universe had interesting things in mind when the music that cropped up over the past few weeks were set and determined for release. If you visit regularly, you know that we’ve been on about taking cosmic explorations with music and visiting planes we didn’t know existed, even if only in our minds.

Today, we get yet another dose of music that should have us exploring our inner selves and just where our imagination can take us. Domovoyd’s new hour-long, self-titled journey is one that requires you to strap into your seat and prepare to take a trip to terrain you’ve never seen before. No, you don’t need mind-altering substances to help get you there, though that certainly may enhance your time. Instead, just let the music wash over you, and you might find it’s the only brain-melting element you’ll need to get on Domovoyd’s level. But keep in mind, while these guys are immersed in exploring the psychedelic realms and self, there also is an element of destroying those realities as well as the world around us. It’s a dream with a curse.

Domovoyd coverThe band itself has been searching the outer territories ever since the dawn of this decade, spending the past five years blowing minds not only with their latest opus, but also with their staggering debut “Oh Sensibility” that dropped in 2013. The Finnish group, comprised of vocalist/guitarist Oskar Tunderberg; guitarist Niko Lehdontie; bassist Dmitry Melet; and drummer Axel Solimeis, really pulls together for an equal parts dreamy and devastating collection on this six-cut, 59-minute effort. Yes, it requires your full commitment as it’s not meant to be digested in doses, but once you’re sucked in, you won’t want to drop in and drop out anyway.

The 16:59 “Domovoyage” starts the record, a rightful name for this one and a track that stretches out its legs in drone and racket before finally letting itself open fully. There is a psychedelic burning haze over this song, with the tempo drifting back and forth from trickling to terrifying, and inside it all, there’s a strange Pink Floyd vibe you can feel going on. Fitting, because as the song reaches its climax, Tunderberg croons, “See you on the dark side of the sun,” while the band hits a spacey high and leaves you utterly enthralled. “Ambrosian Perfume” is an oddly titled track, and it goes a sturdy 9:41, starting gritty and powerful. The singing is deep and bellowing, mixing in with the fuzzy heaviness and later evolving into guttural growls. The track is riffy and sticky, and the final minutes are dominated by electrifying guitar work that takes the track to its fiery finish. “Caustic Afterglow” sits in a pan of noise chaos and then catapults itself into the sky. A dry dialog crawls over the thing, delivering messages such as, “Face the fear, face the fall,” and it later begins to dissolve and gets washed away.

“Mystagogue” has a rough-and-tumble doom riff that gets things going, with strange nasal singing and parts that completely destroy. Harsh growls return again, seeming like they’re about to lacerate Tunderberg’s throat, with the punishment rolling out and steamrolling you to the ground. “Amor Fati” has rich psychedelic guitar work that gets into your blood, and then the whole thing bursts with a fury and pave the way for warbled singing and tastefully damaged melodies. This has more cosmic wonder sprinkled into it, with the final whispered words coming off like an incantation. As good as the previous songs are, the band leaves its best for last with the 17:48-long epic “Vivid Insanity.” The first nearly half of the song floats and lets the band tread in waves, with clean singing sounding nearly folkish at times, and the music making you think you can ease into the rest of the song. But then the earth quakes hard, a universe-ripping riff is unloaded, and the band delves into the heaviest section on the record, sometimes sounding like a more muscle-bound Ufomammut and unflinchingly delivering the goods. The song eventually winds into a sludgy mode, that’s no less heavy mind you, as you’re beaten repeatedly until it fades into the final minutes of calm sound and ambiance, letting you drift off into the night, bloodied but unbowed.

Returning to Earth once this is done might seem like a heavy proposition, but alas, it must be done. Still Domovoyd’s journey is a spacious, punishing one that’ll help you trance out but also bring you back to reality as harshly as possible. The band has an awesome formula down, and they seem to be gaining gravitational pull as they go along. Their second album is a crusher that you’ll want to use to help you get in touch with what’s inside of you, both the constructive and destructive elements.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/domovoyd

To buy the album, go here: http://svartrecords.com/shoppe/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.svartrecords.com/

Indian, Samothrace Roadburn sets get vicious, powerful life on essential new vinyl releases

Indian

Indian

Every year around this time, I take to various social media outlets to flagellate myself for missing out on Roadburn for another year. Seeing people’s live accounts and looking at photos is enough to drive me in a jealous rage that always is conquered annually by my fear of flying. It’s also conquered by my bank account, but one year, right?

What’s cool is, for jerks and losers like me who never make it to the annual festival, we get a slate of releases featuring bands’ performances from the legendary gathering in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Via Burning World Records, we’ve been treated to recordings of bands such as Neurosis, Elder, Wolves in the Throne Room, Nihill, Ulver, Conan, Bongripper, Windhand, Enslaved, you name it. And in case you weren’t present for the 2014 go-around, the world is being treated to vinyl versions of sets from the mighty, sadly defunct Indian and the atmospherically challenging Samothrace, a band that doesn’t get nearly enough credit for their greatness. Each collection is worth your while, especially if you like the various tentacles of doom, and you’d best hurry to get your hands on these records as they are available in extremely limited number.

Indian coverChicago’s Indian was a vicious, imposing force. You don’t always get a taste of a band’s true power by listening to a live album (and sadly, so many miss the mark these days), but you can practically taste the hatred and disgust behind Indian’s music on “Live at Roadburn XXIV.” It is scathing, furious, spits poison, and absolutely destroys you. I can only imagine the punishment the band dealt to the gatherers last year, as just listening to it on headphones was a deathly experience. You can almost envision the band’s catharsis ripping forth the six songs they serve up over 55 minutes, and there’s never a question they are monsters out for your blood. Their passing as a band is a sad one, as they were one of doom’s meanest groups of the past decade. Many of them have moved onto the reconfigured Lord Mantis, but at least we have this devastating platter to enjoy and fear for years to come.

The lineup of guitarist/vocalist Dylan O’Toole, guitarist/vocalist Will Lindsay, bassist Ron DeFries, and drummer Bill Bumgardner rip open six cuts that concentrate entirely on their final three albums—2008’s “The Sycophant,” 2011’s “Guiltless,” and 2014’s “From All Purity”—and from the opening of “The Impetus Bleeds” to their ungodly closer “Rape,” where the vocals feel like they rip through your soul, they completely own the stage. The insanity over tracks including “Banality,” “Rhetoric of No,” “Guiltless,” and “The Sycophant” that act as the oozing filling keep you crushed with their sludgy power and also mesmerized by their noise interludes that must have been captivating live. Every moment of this set is absolutely on fire, and if it’s the last we ever hear from Indian on a recording, they went out on one hell of an infernal note.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/IndianDoom

Samothrace

Samothrace

Seattle’s Samothrace have been around for nearly a decade now, and their full-length output of two full-length records—their 2008 debut “Life’s Trade” and 2012’s “Reverence to Stone”—have been revelations. They fit right along Neurosis and ISIS just fine, but they take their creations into the stratosphere and beyond, clouding your head with great melody as they also chew on your nerve endings with their transmissions and penchant for delivering graceful loud-soft compositions filled with emotional highs and lows. For their Roadburn set, they offer up the entire “Reverence” album, broken up by one song from their debut “Awkward Hearts.” It’s decidedly more laid back and less confrontational than Indian’s output, but they’ve always gone for pushing your mind rather than decimating you with bad feelings and hatred.

Samothrace coverThe band is in fine form on “Live at Roadburn 2014,” with “When We Emerged” getting a properly watery opening that spills generously moments later. After the extended first section of the song, we finally get to hear the vocals. Well, sort of. Samothrace never have put the singing very high up in the mix, instead letting it act as another element in their swirling formula. But you really have to pay close attention to hear them on the entire record, and someone new to Samothrace might not even realize there is singing at all in various sections. That’s not a criticism and merely an observation. Musically, this thing hypnotizes when the need arises but also unloads the damn lumber on the rest of this effort, including the amazing closer “A Horse of Our Own” that runs nearly 18 minutes and shows what this heavily underrated band is capable of doing. This band is awesome, and if you haven’t crossed paths with them yet, this could be a nice introduction for you.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/samothracedoom

These are two more excellent offerings that let those who haven’t been to Roadburn before, or who didn’t attend this edition, what they missed. Or, if you were there, it’s a chance to relive two killer sets that helped make Roadburn what it was in 2014. These two records give doom fans a chance to revel in different sub-levels of the genre and hear two of the best that metal had to offer at last year’s festival.

To buy the albums, go here: http://burningworldrecords.com/label/roadburn-records

For more on the festival, go here: http://www.roadburn.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://burningworldrecords.com/

Swedish doom trio Monolord return with spacey new record ‘Vænir’ that’ll spin your brains

Photo by Hank Henrik Oscarsson

Photo by Hank Henrik Oscarsson

Doom has stretched its tentacles across the Earth and into the solar system, grabbing influences and ideas from places previously unimagined. Therefore, we have been treated to a barrage of different bands and styles with their own ideas about what makes this style of metal so flexible.

From the same headspace that delivered bands such as Electric Wizard, Ufomammut, YOB, and even Windhand come Monolord, the Swedish doom trio that’s been mauling senses the past two years now and already have two full-length efforts to their name. Their first landed last year with “Empress Rising,” and now, a little over 12 months later, we get their beastly follow-up “Vænir,” a six-track, 52-minute record that should get these guys in more people’s minds. They grab from different areas of the doom plane, from traditional Sabbath-style swagger, to cosmic mind-melting, to psychedelic haze, and they put it all together in a way that is purely Monolord’s.

Monolord covrAs noted, this is a three-headed monster led by guitarist/vocalist Thomas V. Jager, bassist Mika Hakki (formerly of Rotten Sound), and drummer Esben Willems, a mighty collection of players for sure. This record feels like a violent haze blistering you about the head. Sometimes it feels like swimming through space, with noise blanketing your ears. The vocals are especially strange, with them feeling like they’re being delivered from the depths of an ocean, with the melodies there but the words sometimes lost in the ether. It often reminds me of the way Dorthea Cottrell’s vocals are presented with Windhand, and it adds a level of mystery to the whole thing.

“Cursing the One” opens it up, with punchy, filthy pounding, buzzing heaviness filling your ears, and the washed-put, psyche-edged singing that’s a common element of this album. The first half of the track spends time getting settled, but when the second half strikes, it does with power. The band hits a nasty, thrashy groove and mashes heavily as the track burns to its finish. “We Will Burn” has boiling riffs, vocals that sound like they’re simmering in water, and excellent, meaty melodies that make this even beefier. The track has a Black Sabbath touch, as they dig into the classic sections of doom as lead guitar lines wail over top. Again, the band hits a violent note, with the final minutes going for the jugular and the band crushing the earth beneath you. “Nuclear Death” also has a heavy Sabbath vibe to it, and the vocals immediately soar into outer space. The punishment is delivered slowly and in a calculated manner, with funeral bells chiming, guitars bubbling and scorching, and the band trudging to a bruising finish.

“Died a Million Times” runs 10:07, and it is an absolute beast. It opens violently and furiously, as the band gets to work hammering your soul, and the vocals slip in as trippy and mind-altering. In fact, as the band piles on layers, you might find your eyelids getting heavy and your mind wandering off with them to whatever dimension they’re visiting. The track has some catchy vocal sections that work their way into your mind, and a cool down is a total red herring for the bottom dropping out of the song. The band dumps tons of cement over everything, as they thicken the mud in which they’re stomping, and churning feedback rises up and brings the song to an end. “The Cosmic Silence” is a quick one that starts kind of jazzy and eerie before it turns into a total 1970s haze ballad. I fact, it seems transported from 40 years ago, sounding glorious and encapsulated in golden honey. The closing title cut is a mammoth at 16:49, setting its pace with a massive riff that dominates before a devastating section unfurls and begins delivering a savage beating. As the song stretches on, it hits varied terrain, from smothering mauling to sorrowful guitars that feel like they’re weeping blackness, to a watery surge that seems like the band is rising from the sea, to the final minutes when the band begins crushing anew and keeps up that intensity until the song and record bleed out with maximum power.

Monolord have carved out a cavernous space for themselves in the doom world in just a couple years, and this sophomore record “Vænir” is a powerful, devastating statement by these Swedes. Sure, this style of music is flooded with contenders, but there’s always room for a band with good ideas and an approach that provides a real spark. Monolord do all of that, and their future is as bright as the stars.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/monolordsweden

To buy the album, go here: http://ridingeasyrecords.com/shop/

For more on the label, go here: http://ridingeasyrecords.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Bell Witch’s oppressive sadness hits dark heights with ‘Four Phantoms’

Bell WitchProfound sorrow is not something for which to be ashamed. That’s been something that’s changed slightly publicly, with the acknowledgement of depression as an actual illness and not a form of weakness, and when that element is present in music, it can blow down castle walls.

Seattle-based funeral doom band Bell Witch have had a stranglehold on the expression of sadness and sorrow over the course of an amazing, eye-opening 2011 demo, as well as their gargantuan triumph of a debut record “Longing” that landed three years ago. Now, the duo has returned with “Four Phantoms,” a concept record of sorts about souls trapped within the four elements of earth, fire, water, and air and how their encapsulation there has led to their torment. It might not be linear storytelling like most records of this ilk, but certainly the suffering endured in each spot ties together this whole thing. So does the soul-crushing heaviness and emotional smothering that’s present in the band’s music. Even if you knew nothing about these songs and their purpose before listening, you can’t help but be darkened by what you hear. It’s there, organically in the music, a dark shadow that hovers over and reminds that dark tidings always are here. They never go away.

Bell Witch coverLed by the two-headed beast of Dylan Desmond (bass/vocals) and Adrian Guerra (drums/vocals), Bell Witch have expanded upon what they created on “Longing” to make for a bigger, headier machine. They explore the damper spots of their sound, expand the range of singing further, and push these cuts to their very limits, never clocking in at under 10 minutes. In fact, two of the cuts go longer than 20 minutes each, and never is there a moment within them not draped in substance and power. It’s one hell of an undertaking, with “Four Phantoms” lasting a little over 66 minutes spread over four tracks, but it is gut wrenching and moving every step of the way. It’s the year’s first doom masterpiece.

Each song title is a mouthful, and we begin with 22:39-long “Suffocation, A Burial: I – Awoken (Breathing Teeth)” that opens in as grim a fashion as possible before erupting in an anguish of melody. The song proceeds to crush your soul over and over again, with clean vocals rising up and conveying the messages of being confined to the earth, and long, devastating sections of playing that make you feel the passage of the ages. Later on, a cool, gothic wind picks up, adding a chill to the surroundings, as well as dreary passageways. The song then hits a convulsion, with the power shaking you, growls reaching into your heart and squeezing it, and a slow, pounding finish that reminds you that you’ve been stretched to your limits. “Judgement, In Fire: I – Garden (Of Blooming Ash)” follows and is the shortest cut at 10:18. It also is weighty and heavy, with the music glimmering above the din in spots and the growls hanging in the air and haunting. Clean calls eventually replace those wails, with drone settling in and wafting like a ghost and the pace slowing down. The scene can mesmerize and cause you to stare for eons, but the echoing drums that are pounded bring you back to life and into this plane of existence.

“Suffocation, A Drowning: II – Somniloquy (The Distance of Forever)” is the longest journey at 22:55, and it features Erik Moggridge (Aerial Ruin) on guest vocals. The track has a deathrock feel at the start, as the music trickles and a damp vapor sets in. There also are moments when the song feels a bit folkish, which makes sense with Moggridge’s presence. The singing goes into higher register, with psychedelic elements blowing in, while the other corners of the song burn and soar. The playing then catapults into the stars, as guttural growling meets up with the clean singing, the band bashes you hard, and then things dissolve back into the lonely night, dripping away caustically. Closer “Judgement, In Air: II – Felled (In Howling Wind)” opens in a bed of noise, with slow-clubbing playing greeting you and deep growls carving a path toward your psyche. The melodies swell and keep growing larger, while each element swirls into a woefully mournful passage that could drive a stake into your heart. The vocals are ugly and obviously pained as they reach the final minutes, where a dark scene gets even blacker, strange sounds combine to create a wall-sized force, and the generous mashing finally loosens its grip, fading out but leaving massive emotional bruising in its wake. If you need a moment to understand what you’ve just endured, you’re likely not alone.

The gravity, weightiness, and sadness packed into this record are obvious and welcoming. To embrace darkness and the fact that we all feel it is a positive thing that, weirdly, could lead to healthier living. The four souls trapped in these songs known anguish, fear, and frustration brought on by their situations, and certainly there are things in our own journeys we can apply to these situations to get some clarity. Or just to sink to the bottom and feel awful for a while. Bell Witch’s grasp on darkness is at strangulation level, and what they accomplish on “Four Phantoms” has to place them high in the conversation of the world’s most important and emotive doom metal bands.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/BellWitchDoom

To buy the album, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

Pittsburgh’s Dendritic Arbor twist black metal, grind into odd shapes on ‘Romantic Love’

Photo by Gregory Neiser (www.gregoryneiser.com)

Photo by Gregory Neiser (www.gregoryneiser.com)

Madness, weirdness, and creativity usually make for a nice mix when it comes to metal. Not all the time, mind you. If everything was this way, what was strange and perplexing would be the norm, and no one would benefit from that. So, in the current state of things, when something comes along that has the aforementioned characteristics, it’s case for celebration. Or at least your attention.

I witnessed Pittsburgh’s Dendritic Arbor live before I heard their intense, challenging new record “Romantic Love.” No slow jams, by the way, so if that’s what you were hoping to get, prepare to be disappointed. Unfortunately, the one time I did see them, they were marred by technical issues (not of their doing), so it was hard to get a full grasp of this band’s might in that setting. But damn, if this record didn’t make that clear? This band mixes black metal with grind with elements of death, and it all comes out pretty strange. Yeah, sure, a lot of bands employ these elements into their sound, but not quite the way Dendritic Arbor do on “Romantic Love,” a record I highly recommend and the follow-up to their just-as-caustic “Sylvan Matriarch.” This new collection is one of those scene-splitting records, and this is one of those bands that will make you hear extreme metal differently and wonder why more artists can’t get on a creative level like this.

Dendritic Arbor coverBy the way, when I speak of Dendritic Arbor’s unconventional ways, it’s not like they’re doing off-the-wall things that could turn off listeners. They just have their own way of going about business, their own formula for making these things happen, and sometimes things shift and change so abruptly, you wonder in what direction to head. But that, to me, is a plus, as the record is such ferocious fun and has me excited to see the band live again under better circumstances. As for the members of this devastating unit, Maxwell Beehner, Christopher McCune, Tom Bittner, and Adam Henderson are the credited maulers. Providing the noise elements on this stunning, wrenching record is Topon Das of Fuck the Facts, Kyle Lambert, Jon Leone, Haultaine III, Elaine H, and Noel Mueller. They help color in the terrifying corners with noise interludes that make this thing ever scarier.

“Murmuration End” is the opening salvo, with tricky, mind-crushing guitar work splattering everywhere and the entire package hemorrhaging blood. The growls sound utterly harsh and raw. In fact, and maybe it’s just me, but the vocals sometimes have a Brian Johnson scrape to them, if he was fronting the most volatile band anywhere. The track is creative and fierce and eventually gives way to a slow-grinding finish. “Blooming Amygdala” starts with a noise squall that simmers before the track ignites into a wall of mathy death, along with tortured wails that sound painful. The band mashes you heavily before tossing you into a sea of mechanical chirps, with the sounds invoking madness. “Horizontal Key Vertical Gate” is insane, with the music burning with a rage and the vocals coming off like a creaky troll looking for flesh. The tempo is dizzying and spirals into madness, with chaotic savagery and manic, warped growls that pull you face-first into the last minutes of electronic storming. “Giallo” is a fast burst, an assault that rips out of the gates, shreds flesh in an instant, and finds the band unloading total punishment.

“Ewaste” runs 8:12 and stabs hard, with the vocals spat out with disgust, speed bursts that maim, and a delivery of unforgiving menace that comes at you from all directions. But just as it feels the entire scene is running out of control into a brick wall, the pace changes on a dime, and the soundscape floats into the scene. The sheet of black ambiance and eerie taps spreads and grows blacker, devouring the last half of the track and leaving you in the midst of an oppressive nightmare. “Ceremony of Dust” digs up some doomy graves, with mucky guitar work, vicious growls, and a thrashy assault, with the track’s title repeated over and over like a chant. Shrieks tear through the surface, and more hazy interference emerges and delivers you to closer “Pestiferous Disease Vectoring.” This cut is outright heavy and off balance psychologically, with a damaged pace cutting a curved path, the assault being delivered slowly but massively, and the track melting into a bed of spacey zaps and warped hisses.

Just know now, this thing is going to fuck up your brain. Dendritic Arbor’s agenda seems to be to twist various elements of the metallic spectrum to fit their mission, and “Romantic Love” certainly hints that they pay no mind to convention. That’s really refreshing to realize, and be it live or on their smothering albums, the band is going to change what you think about metal and how it’s formulated for the absolute best. Be prepared to adjust to them, because they’re not bending for you or anyone.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/DendriticArbor

To buy the album, go here: http://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/romantic-love

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/GrimoireRecords

Bosse-de-Nage’s bizarre, ugly world takes darker turn on torturous, violent ‘All Fours’

Music, and metal in general, certainly is a form of escapism. It’s a place to go get lost in stories that can range anywhere from horror to the glory of the battlefield to psychological wonders and not be the person you had been the moment before hitting play. But to get involved and sink right in doesn’t accompany every album.

Bay Area black metal wonders Bosse-de-Nage are one of those bands who don’t just make records. They make films and vignettes in the form of songs and albums. They have their own subculture bleeding underneath their passages, and they’ve become one of the most mysterious, unique, and distinctive metal artists ever since their initial demos dropped nearly a decade ago. Starting in 2010, the band has unleashed four full-length efforts (the first two for the Flenser; the most recent pair for Profound Lore, tough the Flenser is handling the vinyl version) that act as mini worlds. From my standpoint as a writer, one does not just hear the songs, record thoughts, and spill them into an essay. Instead, you have to commit to the surroundings, let the roots stretch through your body, and live these songs along with the band. Sure, they’d sound pleasing enough on their own without emotional commitment. But to get absorbed is to see all of the various colors and horrors that turn to flesh and grab you for a full experience in their globe.

21002 [Converted]And now it is with “All Fours,” the band’s latest release and their most ambitious yet (which seems nearly impossible considering what preceded it), that the drama gets ramped up even further. The ideas are bigger, the approach is expanded and lets their metallic world grow, yet at the same time, it lets them convey some of their rawest emotions and thoughts to date. The members—they go my letters with the indescribable B on vocals, M on guitars, D on bass, and H on drums—spill all kinds of sounds into their concoction, from agitated indie rock to doom to strange noise and dissonance, and on top of it all are the utterly expressive vocals that aren’t just repeating verses and choruses. Read along while B’s rants, sounding like a mad poet in parts, apocalyptic observer in others, and unleashed monster for the bulk. Those who have been tuned into the band’s mystique from day one will slip right back into this dank scene (and yes, Marie is here again and even inspires the record’s title) of submission, humiliation, repression, obsession, and torture the band has weaved into a tapestry of woe.

“At Night” opens this terrifying scene, with Marie, on all fours as noted, offering up bizarre, violence physical contact, and the bruising mentally and physically coming to a head early. The band roars into a pool of milky black metal, with B’s growling grainier than usual, the guitars mesmerizing, warped melodies setting the stage, and the words coming out as dialog then fierce shouts. Once that blistering carnage comes to an end, it’s on to “The Industry of Distance” that smacks right into a feedback haze. A clean pocket of sound emerges, teasing calm, but then that’s torn apart by emotional melodies, blasts of power, and the mangled vocals that sound like a man crumbling. Maybe it’s just me, but I hear some classic At the Drive In during this cut, as the band hits a cataclysmic high and makes you wonder if the anguish and punishment you’re facing isn’t somewhat pleasing. “-” is a quick interlude of ghostly noise that hangs in the air and stings, leading to “A Subtle Change,” with its surging punishment that is like raw black metal merging with frenetic rock and wrenching vocals that keep pushing the capabilities of human lungs and throat. As the song nears its end, the main melody line loops back around, and the soundscape churns to the bitter finish.

“Washerwoman” is odd and disturbing, especially lyrically as this story unfolds, and the 9:21 opus really will darken your imagination. The song chugs cleanly at the start, with B’s disturbing imagery spoken over the waves. The playing gets atmospheric, with a noise hiss slicing its way in, and then it explodes in a rage. The vocals are delivered with menace, and at one point, a guitar solo slithers through, which is a rarity for this band. Chaos, abrupt changes, and murk lead this one to its chilling finish. The first part of “In a Yard Somewhere” has the most straightforward passage of any Bosse-de-Nage track I can think of. It busts open, drives heavily and honestly, and puts a serious burn on your flesh. Noises that sound like a broken-down propeller arise, as the emotion hits a crescendo, and each figure plays like it’s his final moment of expression. “To Fall Down” surges and storms, halting momentarily to let a steely bassline set up shop and for the melodies to start sounding like some ode to nature. The band keeps building layers on top as this one goes, with the vocals reaching a point of desperation and the sounds folding in on themselves and cascade into time. Closer “The Most Modern Staircase” is the longest cut at 9:48, bled into from the previous song. There is a long, introspective section that gets blown to bits when the tempo and fury erupt. The melodies are glorious and wildly burning, with B’s wails sounding pained, as if he’s on the verge of dying from a beating. Every element of the band pours on the intensity, unloading a smothering panic that could leave you gasping, allowing strings to slice through to add beauty to the morbidity, and the whole finally spinning out of control and taking each of your living cells with them.

As usual, a Bosse-de-Nage record is not for everyone, and “All Fours” might seem like an unapproachable document to those new to the band. This album is a continuation of the stories and terrors that have been a part of this band’s DNA from the start, and there’s no telling when these threads will end. Or if they’ll end. But know this: You will be tested, punished, and pushed into the mud by this band, and they will stretch you to your limits. You want an escape? You’ll get one every time. But be warned that this journey will return you changed and maybe not for the better.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/blackbossedenage?fref=ts

To buy the album (CD), go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/

Or here (vinyl): http://store.theflenser.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

Newcomers Antiversum impress with black, doom amalgamation on massive demo ‘Total Vacuum’

AntiversumWe generally don’t do a whole lot of demo releases around here, for myriad reasons. Primarily, there is so much new music to evaluate each week, and the process of picking 5 or so each seven-day period is a major, stressful task. Another reason is with so many demos circulating, it’s terribly difficult to hear even a fraction of them.

But now and again we do get something that piques our interest, and that exact thing happened with the four-track effort from Swiss band Antiversum, whose “Total Vacuum” is being spread across the metal underground by Invictus Productions. It’s difficult even telling you very much about this band, because the members involved operate in the shadows. Their Facebook page reveals no members’ names, and their Metal Archives entry also is devoid of ownership for this dark art. What we can tell you is this band’s music is a thunderous, storming amalgamation of black metal, doom, and death, shot directly into a vortex and aiming to leave you dizzy and on the floor. If this band’s profile isn’t much larger a year from now (from an overall group standpoint, of course), we’ve failed as a metal community or the band doesn’t exist anymore. Those are the only two sensible reasons if Antiversum isnt a household name for folks who read this site and others like it. They’re just too good and intriguing.

Antiversum coverOpener “Finis Aeternitum” starts with a pocket of strange noise before it leads into a healthy serving of doom-laced darkness complete with harsh growls that prick the eardrums. The fury keeps building as the song goes on, with the drums being crushed, a new level of intensity uncovered, and guitars spiraling off and helping create a dizzying conclusion. “Vetus Angelis” erupts right away, with the guitars leading the assault and a sense of raw carnage permeating the whole thing. The band storms and trudges heavily, and even when the pace slows and things grow more methodical, it’s only a quick breath before they hit full onslaught mode again. The band keeps firing away, entering into a mud pit and eventually allowing the viciousness to dissipate.

The title cut is absolutely volcanic, thrashing, and mauling from the start and levying total punishment along the way. The growls again are relentless and monstrous, with the band achieving a level of infernal chaos but, at the same time, finding a way to be hypnotic and mesmerizing. While the band does let the storm subside here and there, it’s always back into the furnace, as the closing minutes re-engage their bloodthirst and send you on your bruised, woozy way. Closer “Adventus Finis” opens in a haze of dissonance, giving off a vibe that reminds of Portal with them soaring down the rabbit hole of oppressive death. There is a nice bit of atmosphere that settles into the middle of the cut, but when the bottom eventually drops out, it leads into the heaviest, chunkiest part of this release. The mashing is nightmarish, with the vocals turning up the intensity tenfold, as it all gets sucked into a black hole of noise that spins and shakes your organs and eventually turns into dust.

While just a demo, “Total Vacuum” does in fact live up to its name by sucking you right into the madness and holding you in its container forever. This is a promising first step for this band, and perhaps because their profile is non-existent from a personality standpoint, they can continue to operate in the darkness and produce more great transmissions such as these. This is a band whose name you’ll want to carve into the back of your mind for proper storage. Trust me, you’re going to need that information in the future.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/antiversum

To buy the album, go here: http://www.invictusproductions.net/shop/

For more on the label, go here: http://invictusproductions.net/

Nocternity spill decade into making thrilling third record ‘Harps of the Ancient Temples’

NocternitySo I’m in the process of moving, and this thing has taken so much longer to get finished than I ever imagined. We’re talking a couple of years of working to renovate the inside of a house, get our moving schedule lined up, and getting in there. It’s insane, and it’s become to topic of jokes with my friends who tease that this move never is going to happen. I am starting to believe them.

But as long as this venture has taken, it pales in comparison to the amount of time Nocternity’s third full-length opus has been in the works. The band’s last record “Onyx” arrived in 2003, and since that time the band has worked on their follow-up effort “Harps of the Ancient Temples.” That’s 12 long years if you don’t feel like doing the math. In that time, two different incarnations of the band recorded two different versions of the album—a digital and analog take, the latter of which you get on this release—so it’s not like they haven’t been putting time, effort, hours, blood, sweat, and tears into this thing. But at long last this record is here, and it sounds like nothing else that the rest of the black community has put forth in the recent past. That’s a major positive, by the way.

CDBO08V1.pdfNocternity mastermind K.G. (or Khal Drogo …no seriously) remains at the helm of the ship, maintaining his position as the band’s driving creative force and also keeping his label Kyrck Productions alive and well. Joining him in the band is long-time vocalist W. (formerly of Luna Aurora) as well as new drummer N.S. (formerly of Sadistic Noise). For this album, KD promised a less complex record than what we got with “Onyx,” but don’t go thinking they dumbed this down or anything. Far from it. Instead, we get a fully realized, ancient-style black metal assault that would have sounded right at home in the Middle Ages, when swords were claiming lives and villages were put to the torch. It’s exhilarating and mystical, with Nocternity maintaining their unique edge.

The record opens with “The Black Gates” and its dark riffing, spoken vocals that barely register above the chaos, and hissed growls that later take the lead. As the song goes on, it gets grislier and more dangerous, finally washing out at the end. The title cut has a fierce guitar burn that starts it off, with slow drumming echoing and more hushed vocals rumbling in the basement. As the vocals pick up the intensity, so do the guitars as they deliver strong riffs and hypnotic melodies that will have your head spinning. Another bit of dialog slips in, and that’s met with a chugging, churning tempo and singing that sounds like chants. “Titans” begins heavily and mightily, with harsh, gurgly growls and the band absolutely pummeling you. The guitars swelter, while the cymbals are crushed, chants rise up, and the din fades into the night. “River of Woe” is slow burning, with a mesmerizing tempo, howled vocals, and a sense of hypnotics. The track stays at its non-rushed clip, dizzying and causing you to reach for something sturdy to maintain your balance.

“B.O.D.D” has a driving pace, with the vocals rumbling hard, strong riffs raining down with force, and once again, the band trying to get your head spinning. If they’re trying to make you see visions of the past in their mind-altering music, they do a damn fine job at it as this is another that will have the room rotating on you. “Blood Rite Tree” bubbles up quickly with the guitars spiraling and growls filtering in and out of the mix. The leads are ominous, as the vocals go from dusty storytelling to vicious growls. The drums are pounded heavily, while the guitar melodies whip in and take you for a ride. “Opaline Eye of Death” feels like a storm cloud ripping open, with the guitars washing over everything and the melodies riveting. The pace takes its time, though, as it knows it has you where it wants you and can mete out damage more thoroughly. Speaking returns, like you’re being told a tale of old, and the track ends in a deep pit of sludge. Closer “Andromeda” feels humid and thick from the start, with guitars slurring and slashing, the music burning and hanging in the air, and final bits of storytelling returning to infect you one last time. The music is smeary and damaged, with the final moments grinding hard and the track taking ghost form and slipping back into its resting place.

Nocternity certainly took their time and waited until they had “Harps of the Ancient Temples” just right, and their patience and tenacity paid off. This record is very different from many of the black metal albums we are served in bulk, and its ability to mystify you and take you on a trip back into time makes this rewarding and enthralling. Who knows how long it will take for Nocternity to complete the next chapter of their musical story, but this third stop should keep us all satisfied until that moment arrives.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/nocternityofficial

To buy the album, go here: http://ironbonehead.de/shop/

For more on the label, go here: http://ironbonehead.de/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Shining’s dark, polarizing black metal grows even bigger with ‘IX: Everyone…’

Ester SegarraThere are those forces in metal that grate, divide us, force us to call each other no-nothing assholes on social media. And then there are uniters, the ones who have universal acclaim and appeal and seem to be on the list of everyone’s favorite artists. Today, we will discuss something that’s definitely the former.

Many opinions exists on Niklas Kvarforth, the man who has long helmed the Swedish black metal band Shining and who people other vehemently hate or wholeheartedly embrace. There seems to be no in-between, and a provoker like Kvarforth probably would not have it any other way. His project explores many dark territories of human personalities and psyches, and the word “suicidal” often has been labeled to his dark art. As for me, I’ve always been an ardent fan of Shining, even through the band’s many twisted and artistic turns, and each new record I’ve anticipated greatly to see just where he would go next and what new wounds he’d open. His latest “IX: Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends” is another scathing, challenging document that’s bound to be polarizing.

Shining coverWhile Kvarforth is the driving force behind Shining (no one can deny his oceans of charisma and total recognizable vocal delivery) and has been ever since the band’s arrival nearly two decades ago, he’s not alone in this mission. Along with him on this ninth helping are guitarists Peter Huss and Euge Valovirta; bassist Christian Latrsson; and drummer Rainer Tuomikanto, and on “IX,” they turn in a record that shows the Shining borders still are expanding, even if raw, striking black metal remains the capitol city. Kvarforth keeps pushing his voice and hasn’t been merely a growler for a long time. The band’s sounds range from black metal to death to prog to folk in spots, and this six-track, nearly 40-minute mauler is one that’ll damage your senses and also leave you with a dank feeling when it’s over.

Opener “Den Påtvingade Tvåsamheten” is an interesting instrumental piece that starts with eerie noises and scraping static, before a doom-infested riff kicks and a prog-fueled path begins to get carved. Some calm sets in before the drama ramps up again, and then we’re right into “Vilja & Dröm” that rips right out of a corner. Kvarforth grunts and howls his way through this cut, with dark melodies washing over and enhancing his characteristically rolled R’s. The pace gets gritty and dirty as it goes on, with wild shrieks erupting, rustic acoustic passages adding texture to the horror, and guitars piercing and drawing blood. “Framtidsutsikter” changes the pace a bit and also sets the stage for the second half of the record. Acoustic riffs roll out, with Kvarforth crooning thornily instead of growling, and the overall mood can be described, quite simply, as stormy. The guitars hit a reflective high, letting you think the band is giving you a moment to stretch your mind, but the ugliness returns before all is said and done. The music gets cataclysmic, and the fierce vocals match the musical intensity.

“Människotankens Vägglösa Rum” has a crunchy, thrashy start, with the vocals throaty as hell and the tempo taking a straight-forward black metal direction. Kvarforth goes off the rails at one point, delivering hammering shrieks and droned warbling, often within the same minute, and all of that chaos settles down and lets folk waters take over. The band then lights back up, taking on a vibe that reminds of middle-era Opeth, with the final minute blistering before it fades. “Inga Broar Kvar Att Bränna” opens clean and dreary, like a foggy morning rain shower, and even when some of the edges get rough, the spine of this thing stays contemplative and dreamy for the most part. The band even sets up a portion that’s dashed with some European-style folk, with the singing sounding strange and on edge, almost like Kvarforth is having a meltdown. Closer “Besök Från I(ho)nom” has a trickling first few minutes, continuing the mesmerizing sections of the record that preceded it, but it’s not long until crushing growling, furious playing, and oddly jazzy bass playing take over. From this point until the end, things go up and down hills, blazing with a fury one moment, heading into pockets of warmth the next, and finally fading out into the night.

Shining always has been a favorite in these parts, and “IX: Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends” is bound to be another that topples some people’s worlds while irritating others. Kvarforth always has been a unique, uncompromising musician who isn’t afraid to push buttons and cause distaste in people’s mouths. It’s that and his blunt style that endear him to as many (if not more) as those who reject him, and as long as Shining remain this sharp and daring, their music always is going to be worth experiencing for all its dark glory.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/shiningofficial

To buy the album, go here: http://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/

Or here: http://shop.season-of-mist.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/

Aelter lets Green travel into dusty, Western-style noir on fourth album ‘IV: Love Eternal’

AelterI am always pleasantly surprised when I meet and talk to metal listeners who I’ve either know for a long time or who I met through the site and get a scope for just how wide-ranging people’s musical tastes are. It never fails that if I post something on Facebook or Instagram about music entirely not metal, more often than not, those I met specifically because of metal instantly chime in with praise for whatever artist it happens to be. We’re hardly closed-minded.

Because of that, it’s never surprising when noted metal artists break out of their customary zone, or at least the realm for which they’re best known, and create entirely different sounds. We’ve heard that from the members of Neurosis, YOB’s Mike Scheidt, and Windhand’s Dorthea Cottrell, and we’ve certainly experienced that with Wolvserpent’s Blake Green. Now, Green is known to offshoot from that project into other decidedly metal (or mostly) realms with his other ventures, one we talked about last week in Il’ithil, but what he’s created over the long haul under the Aelter banner is something entirely different.

Aelter coverOver the course of four full-length records now, Green has done quite a bit of exploring with Aelter. While not metallic at its core, it certainly can pull in your more adventurous listener who doesn’t mind taking cinematic whirlwinds through space and time. This project has allowed Green to go into folk, slowcore, Western noir, and psychedelic noise, with each record providing something varied. His latest “IV: Love Eternal” finds him traveling dusty roadways, trancing out heavily, and creating a world in which reaching out and exploring the dark corners of every room becomes recommended activity. It’s an album that grows more infectious with each listen and again proves just how versatile an artist Green really is. Not that the fact ever was in doubt.

An “Intro” cut washes into the picture and instantly gives the proceedings an otherworldly sensation, with a dusty Western breeze kicking up, and a weird, warbly transmission leading into “Death Eternal” that feels like it originates in a space opera staged in the middle of a desert planet. There is strange droning and whirring surrounding Blake’s devastated alien singing, and that grabs a hold and never lets go through the course of the album. “The regret and the longing,” Blake laments, as the song hits a haunting haze and steam rises along with the final remnants of the cut. The title track feels damaged and like it’s tossing tumbleweeds over the terrain, with Green noting in his smeary, ghostlike voice, “The desert is speaking.” The whole thing puts a feeling of chilled isolation into your veins, as dark, foggy playing stands at the forefront, while slurring melodies and slide guitars slip into the background and put a heavy blanket over the whole thing.

“Life Eternal” has a similar feel as the other two songs before it, in that it carries on the same spirit. The vocals are quivery and strike me as damaged, with louder guitars looming in the background and charges sparking up over the mire. The track becomes sootier and darker about midway through, with the guitar work leading the way, a steely and spacey state of mind settling, and a few more explosions before the song finally settles into its place. Closer “Hope Eternal” is the longest cut at 11:43, and despite its title, it also sounds the bleakest. The passage is bookended by airy chimes, synth that rises like a vapor, and a sense of traveling through the atmosphere. But in between, guitars begin to churn and burn, with the vocals sounding more forceful and edgier and strong lead melody lines stretching over top. The track is moody and dark as it grows, with the vocals taking on a phantom role, the synth rising back up with force, and the energy ready to dissipate back into the clouds from where it came.

No matter the project or where his head is at during any particular moment, Green is an artist who always has something substantive to say, both musically and philosophically. Aelter has been one of those living, breathing beings Green has created, and “Love Eternal” is another thought-provoking entry into that project’s collection. This is an album that doesn’t really have a right mood or environment when it best fits. You just have to be ready to give yourself up to these sounds, and you’ll be transported right into the dark no matter the season, time, or place.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aelter/1533437623600911

To buy the album, go here: http://pesanta.bigcartel.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.f-consortium.com/