Morta – The Descent of Innanna [Spain, Black] (2017)

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Self Released | 12-29-17

Lowfidelity or lo-fi is an interesting aesthetic to embrace since for the most part it is a concious desicsion one employs on their sound. My vierw on lo-fi has always been positive as I feel it can enhance an already raw record to the point of being sublime. OPther times it xould muddy the sound to the point where things are not as effective. I am still unsure where I stand on Morta and their debut demo.

The Descent of Innanna is a fantastic beginning with a sound that is well structured. From the atmosphere to the wailing shrieks for vocals, Morta has all of the right tools for a fair shot in the world of black metal. The only drawback for this demo is the lack of clarity with the energy stifled under a blanket of fog. This isn’t to say their music would be enhanced by better production rather the guitars and even drums could use a step up in the mix. At the end of the year, I find it humorous who I am giving bands advice on production when just being a reviewer on an internet blog. I have no sway when it comes to band’s future rather just predictions based on initial presentation. The Descent of Innanna is a fine first start and I wish the band luck on their descent in 2018. If Morta is the next Tomb Mold or any other underground hit, I will be pleasantly surprised and thrilled.

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Hexagon – I [Sweden, Death] (2017)

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Living Temple Records | 12-21-17

The landscape of death metal is being changed or at least has always been changing. What once was old school went into cavernous and now is moving into slimy grime. Tagging this as death is sometimes confusing for anyone following the developments of the genre so saying the phrase Swedish old school maybe a little it more telling.

The debut demo from Hexagon is perhaps as it should be — a demonstration of potential. In the release, one can hear a band unhappy with the the production with music that sounds bigger than what is being presented. This is not muddy death metal which drips grease rather a dynamic sound which could excel given a boost. It is not like this demo isn’t fun as songs like “Chambers of Torment” are so nostalgic in their riffs and energy that one could imagine a second, third or fourth renaissance in the direction of death metal. At this point I am still undecided on Hexagon and their direction. For a demo that is being released at the end of the year, I think it is safe to say this is the first step to something else. Be it a more fleshed out EP / Full Length or maybe even a continuation of old school Swedish death on bare bones production is something we will see in 2018. For now I will be cautiously entertained.

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Mal Du Siècle – Dark Ceremonies Under A Cursed Moon [Spain, Black] (2017)

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Self Released | 12-29-17

Aesthetic is important when it coems to releasing metal records and Mal Du Siècle has thrown its lot in with one specific style. If the slightly lo-f production was not the biggrest tip off, then the distressed tape cover that looks right out of a photocopier should be a big indication that it is the cold winter of 1992. The more I look at the cover for Dark Ceremonies Under A Cursed Moon, the more I marvel at all of the ways it leans towards the Norsecore style. I think all of this effort in trying to achieve an aesthetic would be wasted in not for the fact that Mal Du Siècle plays a decent brand of black metal, one fitting of all of this work.

Dark Ceremonies Under A Cursed Moon is listed under raw black metal for Bandcamp yet their production is only cosmetically lo-fi. Aside from a muddy wall that softens the music, the levels in the demo (?) are surprisingly well adjusted. The music on Dark Ceremonies Under A Cursed Moon is fierce and effective and moves beyond just a recreation of Norsecore style black metal. For as much as I talk about working to an aesthetic, Mal Du Siècle excels in black metal without much effort leading me to believe they could do this for many albums. Mal Du Siècle is still a mystery as this is really the only record on Bandcamp aside from an earlier single. there is no personnel info nor any pictures of the band. I am guessing this is a on person act but it could be two. there is no Metal Archives and yet again we are at the end of the year with a mystery demo. Perhaps this is what was intended and for that I can not complain.

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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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Nefast MCMLXXIX – Demo [Chile, Black] (2017)

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Self Released | 10-01-17

At this point, we can still consider this 2017 despite the fact the Bandcamp comes from a label rereleasing this demo in 2018. Rereleases are strange especially since you can already find this demo on the internet. Regardless, Oratorium is a label that seems to be gathering up Chilean acts for presentation and celebration. Nefast MCMLXXIX (It is 1979, I checked) is one of the newest addditions on the Oratorium roster and by hands of fire they seem to want to burn the world.

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Eofor – Demo 15 [UK, Raw Black] (2017)

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Legion Blotan | 12-22-17

Good lord, I do not even know if I should be listening to this. No Metal Archives. No Facebook. IU am actually just guessing at the country as the only information seems to be repsresnation from a local faction called Legion Blotan which represents a slew of raw black and death acts. The things about anonymity is that there is an aesthetic adopted by bands by psudonymns and intentional erasure of information, then there are bands like Eofor who walk the line of existence.

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Vessel Of Iniquity – Vessel Of Iniquity [UK, Black / Noise] (2017)

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Xenoglossy Productions | 12-29-17

Something I always enjoyed about this time of the year was the complete lack of caring by labels and bands for end of the year lists. December is usually a dead zone for larger labels and bands as most of the year lists are being generated. there are some who do not care about frivolous cycles of release and there are others who will wait until the last hours of the year unleash terror.

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Erlkonig – Demo 2017 [US, Black] (2017)

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Self Released | 12-19-17

I saw Erlkonig this year at a local festival in the woods. The band is comprised of most of members of Genevieve plus a smattering of other local Baltimore metal musicians. I now feel weird since I not only know these guys but their music is really fantastic leading me to assure people Im not just talking up a band I know.

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Barshasketh / Outre – Sein / Zeit [New Zealand / Poland, Black] (2017)

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Third Eye Temple | 12-18-17

Before beginning, I want to acknowledge the cover art/layout for this split as being one of the coolest covers of the year. Though I am confused who did the cover since the Metal Archives has the personal sort of mixed up, the artwork looks similar to Fenomeno Design which did Barshasketh’s 2015 album. I know someone is responsible and it fits aesthetically with this split. Even if this is just a rearrangement of classical artwork, the colors and layout are phenomenal and is something I want on all covers of metal albums.

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Agonic Death – Under the Mark of the Devil [Chile, Death / Thrash] (2017)

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Self Released | 12-7-17

Let us be entirely honest and say this is not from 2017. Back in September of 2016, 100 tapes of Under the Mark of the Devil EP were released probably to a small group of people. In 2017, the band put out the Ep again with different art to the protest of no one. Actual release dates get murky when you deal on this level and for all intents and purposes, this death/thrash release can occupy two spaces.

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