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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Phantasmagorum – Glare [Russia, Black / Doom] (2017)

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Self Released | 11-29-17

Album art is important not only as an initial invitation but also as a showcase for music. Though I can not find any information on the artist “P. Seliverstov” since the band itself has no information, it is going to remain a mystery. The cover for Glance however is entrancing and artfully skilled at pulling the listener into a world of gloomy mastery.

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Almyrkvi – Umbra [Iceland, Black] (2017)

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Ván Records | 11-24-17

For the sake of brevity, I decided to just put “black” as the genre as a full explanation would be too long for the post. It only takes a couple of minutes into the opener “Vaporous Flame” to realize that Almyrkvi’s debut operates on a different level than most atmospheric black metal as well as what has become known as Icelandic black metal. With no real place to stand, this act seems content in gazing up at the stars or most specifically the void between stars.

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Xenotaph – Media Morte in Vita Sumus [US, Black] (2017)

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11-13-17 | Transylvanian Tapes

It is strange to talk about music in terms of temperature but since being shared and sharing this band with others, the description and atmosphere of coldness reaching the point of ice is an apt description. Xenotaph is a west coast black metal project supported by the ritualistic Transylvanian Tapes. Media Morte in Vita Sumus is the debut full length after a brief round with a demo and split and proposes to be many peoples introduction into the cold unforgiving world of Xenotaph.

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DSKNT – PhSPHR Entropy [Switzerland, Black] (2017)

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Self Released | 12-4-17

Alright. Fine. Im interested. when I can not find any information on the band or album and it comes steeped in mystery and occult sensibilities, I am embarrassingly in love with it. It certainly helps when the music is a swirling void of focused chaos and well planned ruin. This is where we are with DSKNT, a band that is running on spirits of ghosts and anticipation.

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Ashen Chalice – Spells Of Eternal Sleep Guide Us Towards The Casket [Croatia, Raw Black] (2017)

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Self Released | 08-01-17

Ashen Chalice perhaps has the trifecta of cool titles which hover around the newest release. First off all the project name is super cool. Second of all the album title is entrancing in its wording. Third and perhaps most important is the Bandcamp tagline of “May Nature Guide You On Your Path Towards Self Destruction.” With all of these in place, Ashen Chalice dives into the sometimes uneven world of raw bedroom black metal.

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Vesicant – Shadows of Cleansing Iron [New Zealand, Black / Death] (2017)

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Iron Bonehead Productions | 7-14-17

I swear to Christ, I found these guys before I noticed they were on Iron Bonehead. Despite my best intentions in digging out disgusting black / death, Iron Bonehead seems to be doing the same with more attuned ears to filth and grime. Whatever the case or whoever first stumbled on this band s irrelevant since there isn’t much left of the world after they are done playing.

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