Fortress Of The Olden Days – Night Of Sacrifice [Germany, Raw / Atmospheric Black] (2018)

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Self Released | 4-15-18

I do not think I am completely on board with the artist name for this German project or even the song titles which make up a large part of the aesthetic. From something that looks like it could be dungeon synth to an aesthetic which looks moody in its disposition. Night of Sacrifice, the debut from Fortress of the Olden Days seems like a release which has a lot of problems. Perhaps the thing which makes it okay is the uncompromising howl of misery.

Night of Sacrifice spreads itself over three lengthy tracks with two interludes acting as segment. Similar to the texture of things like Paysage D’hiver, Fortress of the Olden Days takes the mystic qualities of atmospheric black and rubs soil into open wounds giving it a distinct primal quality which feels like the onset of hypothermia. The production and direction of this demo (?) excels due to the creators command over both the music and oddly enough the aesthetic.

Fortress Of The Olden Days is one of the multiple projects piloted by the creator known as Stulpert. While no projects such as Zalmoxis, Ås, or Fortress Of The Olden Days have reach critical attention, the work and aesthetic , as a collective, seems to be working towards something grand. If anything you can rest assured known there is vile dissonance being made in Germany and it is as terrifying as you think.

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Golgothan Remains – Perverse Offerings To The Void [Australia, Death] (2018)

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Self Released | 2-8-18

I usually enjoy finding Bandcamp pages with little to no discussion so I can be one of the first to write a review. This is my bizarre sense of accomplishment. While seeing the massive amount of discussion on still unsigned debut from Golgothan Remains was sort of a let down, the fact we have a strong contender for one of the best albums of the year being released in February sort of makes up for it.

Comparing the band’s debut to the demo shows leaps and bounds in terms of production. While the songwriting is still present, the immersion of sound is one of the strongest aspects of a record which desires to ensnare ones attention. With a few steps above the cavernous sound but a few feet down within grave, Perverse Offerings To The Void succeeds by all merits in being a full sounding death metal record which is near cinematic in its running time.

I find it wonderful when the aesthetics of a band coalesces into a successful record. The closing quote on this Bandcamp page declares “…we live in dust of these remains…” which is colorful and fun in the revel in darkness sort of way. People who enjoy realms of dust and decay will be in for a wonderful surprise come the passing of a thousand years.

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Sixes – Methistopheles [US, Sludge / Doom] (2018)

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Self Released | 3-1-18

It can certainly happen. I enjoy sludge / doom at times in between bought of raw death and black metal. It takes a certain record though to break the spell of things I usually enjoy. I have little reason to stop on Sixes in my daily search through new releases seeking out xeroxed black metal releases. Perhaps I did so due to the warm cover which featured a vintage demon. Perhaps I stopped today since this was doom that did not have a bong or demon smoking a bong anywhere in sight. Whatever the case, Mephistopheles was a welcome chance of pace which still retained the misery and discretion of other forms of music now just in monolithic riffs.

Perhaps one of the reasons I enjoyed Sixes compared to other sludge doom of recent memory is the ability to work within a space. Songs like “A Cross To Burn” doesn’t really start until 3 minutes into its 10 minute running time with the intro churning violently building up momentum to finally crash on some dark sand. The band deals in expected themes such as despondency, violence, drugs, and occultism but aside from the well treaded path of the lyrics lies an entertaining approach at the sound. Sixes channels the ghosts of southern sludge such as Grief, Eyehategod, and early Sleep into an hour running time of complete misery which is both entertaining and stunning.

I am sure Ill get back to my schedule of crypt dwelling black and death metal but for now I am certainly fine with sinking into the lightless waters of this record and not coming up for air until my lungs burn. Sixes offers conflicting emotions which range from excitement, apathy, and desire for indiscriminate annihilation.

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Alkymist – Spellcraft Ceremony [Canada, Black / Doom] (2018)

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One of the more confusing things about this project is it sharing a name with a progressive sludge band from Denmark. Though this is not the first time two bands have shared the same name, the fact both of them are unsigned and relatively on equal levels in terms of popularity makes it confusing at first. Just make sure you are in a cathedral of sadness before listening. Check your surroundings. Are there bells tolling in the distance masked by rain?

Spellcraft Ceremony is a debut 30 minute album (?) from a one man project heavily influenced by the works of Ruins of Beverast. I only say that since the tape version of this comes with a Ruins of Beverast cover. Even outside of tribute songs, the general atmosphere of gloom and inescapable doom which permeates this record is palatable. The atmospheres created by one person never feels stretched or thin and works well as a declaration of sadness voiced by one lone soul.

Spellcraft Ceremony currently is up for tape preorder limited to 100 copies. This tape is being released in collaboration with Moriendi Music and Corde Raide Productions. The only familiar thing I found with Corde Raide is being the only label to release Labyrinthique’s Demo MMXVI. Even if you do not want the Ruins of Beverast cover, the digital version for Alkymist is priced at 2 CAD which will buy you a ticket to a land of perpetual dusk.

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Kwestia Kwasu – Kwas Topi Czas [Poland, Black / Experimental] (2018)

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Cirsium Kollektivet | 2-8-17

I feel the best way to start this review is to reiterate the description from the label and their confusion and excitement is all I need “Here we are…, I don’t even know how to describe the music of these sociophobic polish junkies. Imagine a underproduced blend of blackened ’70’s Punk and dirty Ska with occasional sprinkling of noise or at least something which’s only purpose is to confuse your dull mind… ” If that short description didn’t capture your imagination, then you and I are on different life paths.

Kwestia Kwasu, for all their bizarre antics, is a competent and cohesive band. Their collective vision pushes the music into the realm where experimental music should always aim. Being weird for the sake of being weird does not guarantee success. Challenging oneself to make music which lies on the outside of orthodoxy which triggers confused emotions and even more troubled mental images and being successful is worthy of merit. Kwas Topi Czas excels as an exercise in depravity with its sonic landscape a blistering wasteland of shooting alleys, punk basements, and haunted polka bars.

I was struggling to actually fnd the “experimetnal” tag since I never really use it to describe heavy metal. Though the tag of “avant” is sometimes use, Kwestia Kwasu seems uncomfortable even with that description. There seems to be little quest for art in the realm of Kwas Topi Czas and more of a primal embrace of weirdness. Experimental seems more feral in its description at least that is what I hope to use to describe music that is near indescribable.

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Wojtek – Slaved In Eternal Obeisance To Gravelords Of Old [US, Black / Punk] (2018)

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Self Released | 1-29-18

there are a lot of things I enjoy about Wojtek. I love the fact they lay music in a way that is feverish and maniacal. I love the fact their aesthetic clings to a crossover between occult black and anarchopunk. I love the fact all of the song titles and album cover could be slight parody if not backed up by blistering chaos. I love the fact their band is named after a WWII bear adopted by the Polish military. With everything to love, listening to Slaved In Eternal Obeisance To Gravelords Of Old is similar to reaching for a hug but only getting arms full of razorwire in return.

similar to the tag of black/doom, black/punk is varied in its final mixture and can be different for each practitioner. While some blackened punk retains the musical structure of punk with shrieking vocals and others black metal with predilections for chaos, Wojtek is right in the middle with a record that could honestly be a black sheep in each of its parent genres. With nothing to call home, Slaved In Eternal Obeisance To Gravelords Of Old turns into a molotov cocktail of alchemist fire and hammers in the aesthetic of a city devoured in the flames of sorcery.

I do not know if I would like this better with a more orthodox album cover. I have been staring at the cheap Xerox quality drawing wondering if it would be better just with a black and white sigil of some sorts. After deep meditations, I feel the cover for Slaved In Eternal Obeisance To Gravelords Of Old is fitting as it showcases all of the wants and needs of this record and really acts an overture for the album. Prepare for nothing you are preprepared for.

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Mûspellzheimr – Nidhöggr [Denmark, Black] (2017)

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Amor Fati Productions | 10-30-17

Holy shit, how in the world did I miss this. Not only is the album cover fantastic and everything I dreamed of but the sound is swirling black metal madness. Add to this the fact I am completely in the dark to what the name and album title means which means this is my new favorite record. It takes a special album to meet the aesthetic requirements of intriguing and an even greater one to slip by detection.

Mûspellzheimr is not new, rather this is the second full length along with a handful of demos. The lack of band members is to be expected as well as their absence on social media. Nidhöggr (the dragon/serpent who gnaws at a root of the world tree, Yggdrasil) follows the similar under the radar release Hyldest til trolddommens flamme in 2015. Nidhöggr is very apparent in its presentation that the madness which is flung at the listener at the beginning is going to be a theme throughout the record. From wailing to music that feels like it is about to fall apart, Mûspellzheimr redefines the idea of mental erosion with a record that is frayed sanity and composure. Nidhöggr is for a select audience. There really isn’t a single or unique track which would encompass the thesis of this record. Mûspellzheimr , despite a lack of information regarding themes and even the erasure of album tracks for roman numerals, one can surmise the summary of the band’s intent. Through some easy guesswork, Mûspellzheimr ‘s intentions are nothing less than malefic as well as hellbent on being ghastly.

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The Clearing Path – Watershed Between Earth and Firmament [Italy, Black / Progressive] (2017)

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I, Voidhanger Records | 12-8-17

I was halfway through reviewing this project’s 2015 debut before realizing it was released in 2015. Because of this, I can now see the scope of The Clearing Path as not just an atmospheric black metal act with more interesting aesthetic rather a black metal project that starts on earth and ascends to the stars.

Watershed Between Firmament And The Realm of Hyperborea follows the project’s debut Watershed Between Earth and Firmament. For anyone confused, Firmament is a cosmological divide between the sky and heaven (sort of) and Hyperborea was the land of Ice Giants according to Greek Mythology. Both of these themes that have been placed in the titles heralds a black metal record bent on exploring the cosmos through shrieks and fretless bass. Though I am not usually into progressive black, The Clearing Path succeeds beyond all measure and creates a record I am sure will be a hit with people needing this type of music. The question is no will anyone hear it. This record is being handled by I, Voidhanger Records which means a good shot for this to be heard by more than less people. The fact it is being released at the end of the year doesn’t bode well for any end of the year list however. Regardless of anything, the pace and focus of The Clearing Path doesn’t seem to follow normal calendrical systems rather something more ancient and astral.

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Left Cross – Chaos Ascension [US, Death] (2017)

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Self Released

Oh my. I think I would have stumbled on this eventually due to the album cover but Left Cross is a name I have an eye on due to their addition to the Blood of the Wolf Fest in Spring of 2018. Blood of the Wolf has become a fast way of learning about new Midwest/east coast metal/punk/??? bands that drink from the same cup of slime. By the sounds of Left Cross’ debut, the covenant of grime is real.

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Mammon – Luna de Sangre [US, Black] (2017)

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Self Released | 11-24-17

I need to ease up on my pre judgements surrounding atmospheric black metal. For a style that has a ton of directions, I feel I have been jaded to a legion of albums with trees on the cover and a fawning for post rock melodies. Mammon is tagged at atmospheric black on Bandcamp yet does not walk the line of nature reverence, philosophical transcendence, or emotional longing. Rather this Detroit based band feel cold as concrete, full of disease, and possibly undead rot.

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