Kryptan revel in darkest black metal’s qualities, twist the knife on blazing self-titled debut EP

Misery and black metal tend to go hand in hand as that style of music isn’t exactly here as a pick-me-up if you’re looking for some sort of flowery messaging. It’s ugly, sometimes too much so, though it’s also an ideal location for one to unleash the worst of their souls, the most fitting realm to let go of the forces that darken the artists’ lives, which we get to see and hear in their music.

Kryptan actually came to life in the worst possible time, when a global pandemic was spreading across the globe, sickening and killing millions. Yet, for the three members responsible for this band and their killer four-track debut EP, it was rich breeding ground for creating art that celebrated the ugliest elements of civilization. The three artists here—vocalist Alexander Högbom, guitarist/bassist/synth player Mattias Norrman, drummer Samuel Karlstrand—bring experience with bands such as October Tide, Katatonia, and Wretched Fate, and what they commit to tape here is devious, startlingly melodic, and a dagger to the heart of hope, leaving any chance at calm bleeding on the side of the road.

“A Giant Leap for Whoredom” opens and brings glorious black metal fire and ferocious shrieks as the low end gets burly and thick. Melody charges as the vocals go from guttural growls to banshee wails as the tempo punishes, and the storming has a gothy finish. “Bedårande barn” begins deep in the murk, blowing through and landing punches, pumping with a thick, foggy terror. Vicious growls carve away as the playing spirals and drills into the ground, delivering a menacing force. The leads sweep as guts churn, a synth gaze cools faces, and the drama thickens before fading away. “Blessed Be the Glue” has a melodic gust and powerful drumming as the fury increases, making their intensity nearly tangible. Black metal power bursts, the synth creates a fog, and we rip back in, with everything spilling out into echo. “Burn The Priest” closes the album, unleashing encircling riffs and shrieks that massacre, as the simple but violent chorus delivers bruising. The guitars wrap their tentacles as a fiery gust nearly knocks you over, and symphonic power blows the doors down. The playing stirs, another volcanic chorus rouses, and we end with the final blows blasting our rib cages.

This is a promising first glimpse at Kryptan, who bring some interesting twists to traditional black metal and infuse it with the sub-genre’s bloodthirst. This band brings a wealth of experience to what they do from their other projects and united to create something more sinister than what they all do elsewhere. Everything here hints at a volcanic future as they carve more bloody pathways into black metal’s rotting, blackened heart.  

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

To buy the album (U.S.), go here: https://debemurmorti.aisamerch.com/

Or here (Europe): https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/12-eshop

For more on the label, go here: https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/

Funeral doom beasts Cessation carve ugly pathways to psyche on devastating one-track demo

It’s a weird time of the year to retreat into darkness, bone-chilling cold, and uncompromising misery, but here we are, basking in it anyway. Actually, just because it’s summer and it’s warm doesn’t mean that pain and agony retreat for a few months. That shit tends to fester, boil beneath the surface, and eat right into your wiring at the worst possible time.

That kept spreading through my brain as I visited Cessation’s self-titled debut demo, a single-track mauler that brings ashen funeral-style doom into the forefront and does whatever it can to black out your hopes. Comprised of two members of death/doom beasts Mordom—vocalist/drummer/guitarist Nathan Gonzalez and guitarist/bassist Max Hoffman—combine to put you through the ringer for 20 minutes, pounding you over and over with plodding intensity as they unleash their darkness for all to see and experience. It’s a harrowing journey through the darkest of humanity.

“Abyss of Desolation” is the lone cut, a 20:12-long bruiser that starts with a gloomy charge and doomy chugs as the growls boil, and suddenly we’re trudging really hard. The playing goes off the rails as the drums rattle, and we’re headfirst into murky doldrums, firing up and blasting away, bringing caustic charges. The playing fades temporarily before being reborn into a harrowing, shadow-rich terrain, letting guitars drip into ice chips. Drums echo before the band starts landing heavy blows again as the bass coils and strikes, and the guitars add some unexpected warmth. The haze increases as the misery laps, the playing burns out, and we exit into thick, ominous clouds.

This is a particularly bleak portrait of doom as Cessation unloads on your fraying nerves and crumbling psyche with this self-titled demo that’s merely a hint of what’s to come. That’s a mosrbid possibility as this single track already is daunting and chilling, easily making you try to make copious lists of places where you can find safety. As this thing progresses, that list shortens before disappearing completely, as this force cannot be overcome or overwhelmed.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.instagram.com/cessation.sd/

To buy the album, go here: https://transylvaniantapes.bandcamp.com/album/cessation

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Johnston rows into losing control, darkness on Midwife’s haunting ‘Luminol’

Photo by Alana Wool

I detest making long-term plans because almost 100 percent of the time, things are going to go wrong, nothing will go right, and I’ll be left upset and swearing. That’s just the cost of living, as nothing ever goes according to what you hope, so you’re left to pick up the scraps of your plans and try to regain any semblance of accomplishing your goals.

Madeline Johnston made the ill-advised decision to try to make 2020 a productive one on the road, playing her songs that she culls under the “heaven metal” moniker. I don’t have to tell you how that one went. With tour plans scrapped due to the pandemic, she instead focused on creating a third full-length under her Midwife moniker, the imminently arriving “Luminol.” As expected, the music here doesn’t really register as “feel good,” though her art never has as she has explored loss and inner torment rather thoroughly. This time around, Johnston focuses on incarceration, loss of control, self-harm, and truth seeking, among other topics, and the music always cuts a tributary into your mind. The compositions have added levels of texture that help set it apart from her memorial-based “Forever” album released last year, and the heaviness comes in the emotional and psychological toll paid during these six tracks.  

“God Is A Cop” begins with solemn keys and Johnston’s hushed vocals as she ominously calls, “I can’t kill the evil thought, I can’t turn it off.” Cool keys rumble as guitars beam, bringing heat as she continues to sing those words, with notes ringing out and her left alone in the dark. “Enemy” greets you with guitar buzz and an uneasy haze as Johnston delivers words that might hit some close to home with, “My body wants to kill me, my body is an army, my body is out to get me.” The track feels like a mid-90s college rock dose of numbness as she continues to explore those words, repeating and searching, coming back to slowly wind down the track and lie it in a hypnotic buzz. “2020” has guitars churning, the feeling like you’re ensconced in a dream as Johnston continually calls, “And it feels like heaven is so far away,” the refrain from The Offspring’s hit “Gone Away.” Considering the title and what we’ve all been through, the dreamy calls bore into you, reminding you of how goddamn far we still are from safety.

“Colorado” delivers beats cracking and guitar work that reminds of Mazzy Star’s smooth darkness as Johnston’s voice floats amid the murk as cosmic keys boil in a cauldron. It feels like a psyche daydream that bounces through fog as she cries out, “How much more death can one person take,” before insisting, “No, I’m not OK.” Moody guitars settle in as the melodies lap, and everything echoes into the night. “Promise Ring” has keys melting generously as the vocals settle in, rolling into the ashes. “Love will break your heart forever,” Johnston sings as simple keys create a fault line, and other elements emerge and mix into the DNA, punching and dissolving into noise. “Christina’s World” closes the album as key emerge, and hushed singing touches your nerves gently. “Show me the way,” Johnston continually pleads as the guitars awaken and send jolts, the music simmers in mystical clouds, and everything blends into the horizon.

Johnston’s metal is more sonically delicate but still cuts to the bone, as her minimalist lyrics are like heavily sharpened daggers that knife through your ribcage. “Luminol” is an entrancing listen, making it feel like you’re in the midst of a fog dream, trying desperately to find answers to what ails you. Hopefully 2021 and 2022 can be grounds for Johnston to take her arresting music to the people, overwhelming a hushed room with songs that can crush your soul.  

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Midwife-1544620965823272/

To buy the album, go here: https://nowflensing.com/collections/flenser-releases

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

Fully shrouded Arcane Marrow create stunning, strange black metal on ‘Elders Present to Me’

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with information, especially when you’re running a site that’s centered on newly released albums, of which there are way too many to ever tackle alone. You should see my inbox. It’s a fucking abomination. Now and again, I get the total opposite of that when I get releases that contain minimal information, and trying to scrub for more is nearly impossible.

That’s not a bad thing at all, as one actually can concentrate on the music and not fuss over details, which I got to do with Arcane Marrow and their enthralling debut “The Elders Present to Me.” While the band is active on social media, there is a shroud of secrecy as to their identities, and all we know is that the union is comprised of members of Primeval Well and Vile Haint. Their raw but melodic form of black metal hails from their cave dwellings, and they mix in some different styles that certainly hints at their interests beyond their sub-genre’s boundaries. That makes for a refreshing listen because it’s full of surprises you don’t see coming, yet it fits quite well, adding a little extra to their storm of power.

“Nocturnal Neanderthal Mysticism” opens amid noise and anguished howls with a melodic surge on top of that. Shrieks rip through as great riffs steamroll as things speed up, and the playing gets even more massive. That spirals into savage vocals and a vicious burst that charges up and heads into “Glacial Tears Flood the Primeval Plains” that delivers icy riffs and raw, wrenching power. The shrieks carve into you as the playing swims through the murk, racing and splattering, storming heavily before a clean sheen brings a dose of calm. “Before the First Notions of God” runs 9:07 and ruptures veins as the guitars take on a classic southern rock-style assault, rollicking as it flattens you. The shrieks tear holes into the cosmos and drive chills down your spine before we’re into a jumbling journey that makes the earth and sky seemingly change places. Pained shrieks rain, the melodies drive dangerously, and everything just unloads, ending things on frenetic terms.

The title track is flush with heartful playing and piercing shrieks, tidal waving onto your shores with massive intensity. Riffs run roughshod as the playing wrecks shop, splattering with sinister guitars that rush through a thick cold front. “The Dismal Woods Receive Me” is the longest track, running 9:25 and bursting to life with a rampaging intensity that lights fires. Shrieks peel back flesh as the black mastery builds, stomping with emotional power, and that causes the waters to darken as the playing just keeps getting more ferocious, leaving you a heaving mess. “An Enveloping Black Harmony” is the closer, and it wastes no time raining down blows and overwhelming you with snaking melodies. The playing sometimes takes on a rock n roll feel, adding a blast of approachability into the mix. Melodies bustle while an indie rock feel lights up and bolts, with the shrieks coming in to maim. Nasty guitars continue to deliver while the blinding rampage sheds blood right to the finish.

While there is little we know about Arcane Marrow on a personal level, the passion and maniacal energy they smash into “The Elders Present to Me” is stuff of magical legend. The band certainly is black metal at its core, but the boundaries they push and the extra elements they work into their DNA help them rise above and capture something special. This is a really mesmerizing, challenging record that will take a few visits to really wrap your head around all of the chaos plastered into this crusher.  

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

To buy the album, go here: https://moonlightcypressarchetypes.bandcamp.com/

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

Dungeon Serpent expertly mash melody into death on thrilling debut album ‘World of Sorrows’

The term “melodic death metal” kind of has a strange connotation for me because when I hear it, I immediately think of something that will be splashed all over band merch sites with 50 horrible shirt designs with bad colors and even worse jokes. And that’s unfair because there is some really great death metal that is wrapped in melody that will outright rip off your face.

One of those bands is Canadian powerhouse Dungeon Serpent, who are delivering their stellar debut record “World of Sorrows.” The project is the brainchild of Arawn, the sole mastermind behind the music, which is even more astonishing considering how full bodied and completely realized this music is. Over five tracks and 34 minutes, Arawn weaves a deadly fantasy world that he paints with heavy doses of melody and guttural death, a collection that certainly can sweep you up but has no real interest in being approachable. Instead, you’re met with scorching, sophisticated chaos that reminds of when bands first applied this style to the deadliest of arts.

“Necroscape” starts off by blasting onto the battlefield and galloping hard, ravaging bastards with harsh growls and journeying guitars that get your blood flowing. The bass rollicks as every element comes together, causing bruising of your extremities as the pace switches up, getting even gnarlier as the soloing explodes. Things keep blazing as classic metal power is ignited, ramping up hard before ravaging to the finish. “Decay” just crushes when it starts as the growls bubble to the surface, and your blood is sent racing through your veins. Riffs gash as the vocals turn even uglier, then keys rise and fade into the background as the playing retreats into the horizon.

“Immortal Incubation” is filled with animalistic rage, moody guitar work, and vocals that just mangle. The leads jolt again as the pace mauls you, gruff growls drop hammers, and beastly glory rips through your chest. “Cosmic Sorcery” opens with a power metal-style assault and hammering, melodic fury that just piles on ruthlessly. The growls leave scars as the violence is channeled before clean lines jolt, and everything blossoms in full, bringing a super charge of energy. The final moments just bristle with chaos before dissolving into watery keys and a gothy finish. “World of Sorrows” is the 11:31-long instrumental closer that’s quite the adventure, starting with great twin leads and an exploratory section that runs into speed and raucous energy. The playing mashes away as acoustics sweep in, gasping wind as things pick up anew, and the guitars gain momentum. The main riff returns and stirs, leading into a spiral attack that is finished off with chilled acoustic waves.

“World of Sorrows” is an impressive debut outing for Dungeon Serpent, returning the tenets of chaos and madness into melodic death metal. This music doesn’t try to play it slick or sugary; instead, the five tracks here use melody as pathway to deliver a hammering attack that crushes through its own fantasy world. This is a really interesting record, one that might be the first steeping stone of one of death metal’s future leaders.

For more on the band, go here: https://dungeonserpentmdm.bandcamp.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://namelessgraverecords.com/products/32274931-dungeon-serpent-world-of-sorrows-cd

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

Severed Boy imagine horrifying actions without restraint with upsetting EP ‘Tragic Encounters’

Part of the thing that keeps most humans in check is the presence of a conscience, the thing that makes us step back and consider the consequences of our actions before we do something we might regret. But what if that was something that didn’t exist or could be eliminated entirely? How would that cause people to act, and would the world be thrown into chaos?

Nicholas Wolf and Reid Calkin, both members of Lunglust, considered that idea when putting together their new band Severed Boy and their debut “Tragic Encounters.” The band’s name plays up the idea of being able to being separated from one’s conscience and what might result, and that’s unfurled in the form of devastating, psyche-destroying death and doom metal. The five tracks are menacing and aimed at exploring the worst possibilities of humankind, fixating on the most heinous acts one could commit physically and psychologically, which explains why this music is so scarring.

The title track starts with guitars warming before the doom shower hits, and suddenly we’re saturated. Mangling growls and punishing guitar work charge your bones as a burst of melody rips through, and the drumming clobbers. Things get muddy and ugly as the last doom offensive is mounted, and then we’re on to “Pooling” that brings some indie rock fire at the front. Growls crush as the atmosphere thickens and even grows more inviting, but it doesn’t take long for things to go morbid again, unloading on you as the song ends. “Agony and Despair” in a strange instrumental that ties together dark clouds and shadowy strangeness, feeling ominous as they head into “Sparse Forest of Memories” that delivers mucky pain and leads that burn with ferocity. Growls drone into the earth as heavy punches are landed, and the band trudges hard, with no regard for your feelings. The track ends in smothering power and some bizarre ambiance, leading to our closer “Mindless Future Breaker” that drubs and immediately drills you into the mud. The vocals scrape as the guitars catch fire and revel in grime, and the assault floods your senses. The guitars slice, and black doom blood flows, and then their glory rises to the surface as they end things as punishingly as possible.

The promo materials that accompany “Tragic Encounters” label the music as upsetting and uncomfortable, and I can’t think of a better way to describe Severed Boy’s awesome debut EP. It just beats your ass for 20 minutes, rarely letting you up to get a breath or recover at all. That’s a positive because we didn’t come here for an easy time; we came to get flattened and borderline humiliated, and Severed Boy delivered.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://caligarirecords.bandcamp.com/album/tragic-encounters

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Portuguese terrors Concilium mar death, black metal with ‘Desecration’

The night is hot, and your breathing is labored, trying your best to find relief in sleep but only falling into the terrible loop of strange nightmares every time you lose consciousness. You stick to the sheets, certain that you’re hallucinating, dying, going mad, or a combination of all of that, and no matter what you do, your slumber is shoved violently back into your mind’s most warped storytelling.

Or, maybe you’re not actually asleep but instead trying to make heads of tails of “Desecration,” the mind-scraping debut record from Portuguese black/death metal phantoms Concilium, a work of art that feels like it was taken directly from your life’s worst dreams. The trio—N (guitars, vocals, compositions, art direction), Vulturius (drums), Occelensbrigg (bass)—create an atmosphere that makes it seem like you’re staring directly into a void of psychosis and a gasp of pure darkness around which your brain cannot fully wrap. It’s a stimulating, terrifying journey through buried darkness, ghostly whispers, and panicked feelings that put your fight-or-flight tendencies to the test.   

“From the Chalice” awakens in murky hell before bones are turned to dust, and the misery spreads. The vocals hiss beneath in a soup of blood and muscle that mars any hint of cleanliness, the guitars churn, and the elements hit tornadic highs before finally laying its head to rest. “Shadow Gospels” ruptures right away, delivering washed-out horrors that make it feel like you’re having body disassociation. The growls hiss as a cloud of smoke obscures everything, and then the playing adds a different level of pressure, making you go into a mental breakdown as the track carves deep into your mind. “From Emptiness to Oblivion” drips in, leaving an eerie fog you practically can cut with a knife. The track is both hypnotic and brings terror, plodding and adding to an echoey nightmare, finally washing away into a strange bath of confusion and electricity.

“Sacred Land of Impure Blood” alerts its arrival with bells ringing and the playing pounding hard, even making the bruising slip into an atmospheric assault. The growled whispers sit in the guts like a ghost, the track picks up and steers into the mist, and the carnage makes an easy landing absolutely impossible. “Blood on the Altar” drills in and grinds as the drumming reverberates, and we head into the heart of blackness. Total battery takes control, waves of chaos amplify your uneasy stomach, and everything finally relents by bleeding away. “Blood Candles” ends things with anguished guitars and whispers haunting, letting doom waters lap slowly. The pace makes your nerves go numb, and then the playing turns into a murderous gust, with haunting darkness strengthening its grip. Feedback tangles and lingers, a thick synth fog emerges, and the whispers mix in with the spirit of the night, ending the record with a sense of chill and dread.

It’s hard to put a finger on what Concilium have in their minds when putting their strange black magic into play on “Desecration,” but the results are intellectually punishing and sometimes utterly horrifying. This feels like evil spirits lurking toward you with you having almost no chance at keeping them at bay, leaving you at their non-existent mercy. This is music capable of climbing into your mind and rewiring your psyche, and not always for the better. Strange, vile, and violent only begins to explain just what awaits you when you confront the ghoul that is Concilium.

For more on the band, go here: http://sentientruin.com/bands#/concilium

To buy the album, go here: http://sentientruin.com/releases/concilium-desecration

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

Year of No Light immerse their thunderous music into human rebirth act on ‘Consolamentum’

Humankind is a volatile, unpredictable thing as we all have branched out since our own entrance into the world to create lives for ourselves that do not match with anyone else’s experiences and sometimes lives in odds of others. No matter what, we all have successes and failures, highs and lows, good and evil deeds that run through our lives, and once we leave this place, that pathway is the only thing that really is our own.

The human experience and our sometimes-troublesome journeys are something long at the heart of Year of No Light’s music, itself an anthemic soundtrack that feels like it could play in the background of a playback of our lives, which has spread out over all five of their albums. The latest for this French instrumental post-metal band comes in the form of “Consolamentum,” a title taken from a ritual practiced by the Cathartic Church in the 12th to 14th centuries. The act was designed as a sort of spiritual baptism before one’s death, a means of making amends for the failings one had during their lives in order to bring them closer to god. What the band—guitarists Jérôme Alban, Pierre Anouilh, and Shiran Kaïdine, bassist/keyboardist Johan Sébenne, drummer/keyboardist Bertrand Sébenne, drummer/keyboardist Mathieu Mégemont—weaves into this experience is a test that makes you face your own darkness and failures and creates a space for that catharsis to spread its wings, filling you with the ability to overcome and stretch out your own possibilities.

“Objuration” opens in a long drone, setting up the ambiance as the doom spreads, and the cloud cover darkens noticeably. The playing soars as the guitars heat up and increase the temperature, stirring as the melodies bubble over and race toward you. The intensity then ramps up, the drums pound away, and hypnotic playing tangles your mind, dripping then gushing, ending completely flooded over. “Alétheia” trickles in as a moody haze settles, feeling like a midday staring at a clouded blue sky. The storms then arrive and roar as the drama builds, and the sounds crumble within. The intensity explodes, the guitars lap over each other, and the track stop in an explosion of colors. “Interdit aux Vivants, aux Morts et aux Chiens” feels doomy and ugly at first before the sounds come to life and spread, getting burlier and more sinister as it moves along. Melodies scowl as the guitars stretch their wings, picking up momentum as your guts are squeezed. Hypnotic hell unloads, making the room spin dangerously, the playing floods, and you’re left blistered and scorched from the heat.

“Réalgar” starts clean, tingling your nerves as the scene is set, letting loose sparkling guitars that tease your ears. Gazey blood begins to flow, and the emotion starts to build up at a clip too fast to tame. The atmospheric pressure makes your bones vibrate, and then darkness strikes, completing an unpredictable heel turn that leaves you gasping for safety as you watch it dissolve before your eyes. “Came” caps off the record, beginning with a synth fog and drums coming to life, yet the band maintains more of a measured approach that dabbles in mid tempo. Synth makes sun beams crack the clouds, and at about 7 minutes in, everything erupts, and the fires rage toward the stars. The band pummels hard, your face is smeared in bloody soot, and the keys ring out, letting the track disappear into a red sky.

Year of No Light have spent the better part of the past two decades making incredible soundscapes and telling epic tales without the benefit of words, something they display again on “Consolamentum.” Their fifth record is another huge-sounding, sky-exploding display that builds inside your heart, spreads to your mind, and makes your psyche burst. This music is such that it should be heard in spacious rooms with audiences anticipating every high and low, and these songs mix in perfectly for that experience.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://pelagic-records.com/artist/year-of-no-light/

For more on the label, go here: https://pelagic-records.com/