Olm – Ruin of Scepter – Chasm [US, Black] (2018)

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Self Released | 3-19-18

I am always on the lookout for cool black metal despite falling had over heels for recent rotting death. Finding Olm was special as it allowed me to embrace the hatred and anger associated with black metal without any pretense. Finding Olm was fantastic as it seems to be the prototypical subject matter for black metal just done in a way which feels fresh and genuine.

Ruin of Scepter – Chasm is a demo comprising of two songs that are surprisingly named “Ruin of Scepter” and “Chasm.” This sort of unceremonious naming sequence fits the band’s quest for earnest and simple delivery as the music is black metal presented without any bells, whistles, or plates. The dips and dives of “Ruin of Scepter” has enough riffs and atmosphere to make it harsh but with hooks as well as entertaining while still grating against skin.

“Chasm” is a good example of the direction and potential by this band. What seems like a routine black metal demo soon turns into turbines of ferocity but a drumming section that sounds hazardous. The lengthy tracks make this demo into a destination for anyone wanting to bath in self hatred and damnation. It takes a special band to make a raw demo about darkness feel like something new and by the raw feeling after listening to this demo is any indication, Olm did a fantastic job.

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Mortuus Umbra – Omnipraesent [Israel, Black] (2018)

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Self Released | 1-11-18

Mortuus Umbra is from Israel which is not that much of a unique factor though the western Asia is on the lower end of metal exports. Looking at statistics for the county, there are around 250 metal bands in Israel which contains a bevy of genres and even more diversity in quality. Judging by this recent EP as well as their 2015, Mortuus Umbra maybe notable not just for the country of origin but stellar black metal which feels like dark hypnosis.

Omnipraesent is Mortuus Umbra’s second EP which builds upon their fantastic debut in 2015. The lyrical themes registered on Metal Archives has Luciferianism and sorcery as their subject matter which gives a dark undertone to an already present unholy aura. One of the more enjoyable aspects of Omnipraesent was the groove of the music which was similar to a less costumed Melechesh as well as a less erratic Deathspell Omega. Songs like the preview “Void II – Burning Fire of Ecstasy” see a cohesion in sound as well as vision as this unsigned band has the potential to ensnare the hearts and spirits of unsuspecting listeners.

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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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Висельник – Despair [Russia, Raw Black / Ambient] (2017)

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Self Released | 1-26-18

I think changing the tag of DSBM to Black / Ambient is better for longevity purposes. Depressive Suicidal Black Metal sometimes drops the Suicidal portion of the name and even though some bands do bask in the macabre of self harm, they do so often without the tag of DSBM. At this point DSBM has become a genre that was a thing but is no longer needed. This isn’t to say that depressive black metal or even the sounds that were heralds to the genre aren’t being used. Take Висельник who has all of the hallmarks of the genre from the tin razor guitar sound, to the anguished wail, to the catalog of demos that have gone unnoticed.

Despair is the 26th proper demo for an act that has only been around for 10 years. In the larger picture, Despair does not charge into any new landscapes fro the artist rather continues a small incremental march towards well rounded black ambient. the fact that most all of these 16 demos have gone unnoticed frames the work of Висельник as a personal endeavor with some grief stricken results. Beyond the wall of torn sound that inhabits most of the music, there are some wonderful melodies which flies around music that is a near textbook example of depressive black metal.

I am usually not a seeker for this type of music and in fact find a lot of the tropes used in this genre ruin the aesthetic and mood. Висельник manages to make depressive music without succumbing to cartoons or edge laded tropes. the final few songs are covers by other obscure depressive black metal acts which again allows the user to go further into the dark cellars of emotion. Despite this demo probably being apart of a larger book from an artist who will likely bask in shadows, Despair is a fine pick for the gloomiest of days.

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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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Khragkh – Šlach Anihilacyi [Belarus, Black] (2013) [REISSUE]

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Exit Fetish Tapes | 1-19-18

I am going to start tagging tape reissues rather than try to cram them into the current year. Acts like Khragkh are current working black metal bands who are having their demos released by DIY labels like Exit Fetish Tapes. This does not mean Šlach Anihilacyi can slide into 2018 as a release as the band already has their debut LP planted in 2017. For this and for future releases that transcend an actual year, I hope this makes more sense. I am only spending so much time to get this right as things like Šlach Anihilacyi are worthy of attention in both years.

Going through the band’s 2017 full length one can hear things that are slightly askew. Despite a jump in production and a step up in terms of album design, the core of Khragkh remains maniacal with black metal twisted by sorcery. From the vocals which sound as if from a boneclad shaman or the tendency to get lost in hypnotic instrumentals, Khragkh is a wonderful gem hidden under the blood of a sacrificial altar.

The Šlach Anihilacyi demo is going to offer one everything in terms of aesthetic looking for lesser known black metal that was heard by 20 people in its original run. This does not mean, however, later records on “bigger” labels are not worth ones time. Khragkh is probably the only belarusian band I can think of off the top of my head and with that distinction, they are the best Beleariusian band at the moment.

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Benthik Zone – Causa Modicum Temporis Spatium [Portugal, Atmospheric Black / Death] (2018)

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Self Released | 1-18-18

After a short rest following end of the year festivities, this is the first Tape Wyrm review of 2018. I thought it would be fitting to celebrate the passing of the new year with a record that sounds like the collapsing of worlds and the coming of an age of darkness.

From a very Latin background, the title for this EP translates to something like to cause a short space of time. While the track titles are rendered in cryptic aesthetics, the lyrics are still Portuguese which yield abstract and cosmisc themes. If the album titles and track lengths were not a giveaway, Benthik Zone reaches for the heavens and tries to pull down the blackness beyond the light.

I am just learning about this band and their records as Via Cosmicam ad Europam ab Gelid Inferis was released in September of 2017 and would have fit perfectly on this site for much of the same reasons as their 2018 did. It sometimes takes a band and their releases to reach certain places much in the same way light does across the galaxy. For now, Causa Modicum Temporis Spatium has arrived coming from somewhere beyond the heavens.

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Cultum Interitum – Sorgspell [Poland, Black] (2017)

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Self Released | 12-19-17

Sorgspell is an ambitious demo from a band that seems to have everything checked and ready to go. This is not uncommon though some bands choose to enter causally with a debut demo. For a debut demo released in the twilight of 2017, Cultum Interitum is ready to go when everyone else is going to sleep.

Sorgspell is a decent display of mid-fi black metal that has great vocals and sobering melodies which are draped over its body like funeral shrouds. Songs like “Agony” show a band that is playing above a ate December demo with music that is fitting for a full length. I am not complaining about the demo quality as I love hearing a variety of sounds at the starting level. Aside from the placeholder Dore album art and the placeholder old english font and the placeholder placement of the name and album title, Cultum Interitum seems like the first one up and ready to start on 2018.

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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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Sørgelig – Forever Lost [Greece, Black] (2017)

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Self Released | 6-1-17

There are sometimes a great record comes out at the very end of the year and other a great record comes out in June and I just completely missed it. There will never be a time when I can be certain I heard most or even half of the lesser known metal this year even in the styles I enjoy. Sørgelig fits everything I enjoy about black metal with a kickass cover and I still missed it. This is what is hilarious about new music as something that is destined to be enjoyed is sometimes impossible to keep track of. For me I am glad I got the opportunity to catch this miserable record of despair.

Forever Lost is the debut EP by a greek depressive black metal act that leans on the side of raw production. The only member connection I can see is a shred member with Isolert. It does not really matter as Sørgelig is unique in the fact it plays depressive black metal that does not stale under its common narratives. Songs like “The Hill Where I’ve Buried my Casket” are unashamedly purple in its description but the energy and emotion within the track never becomes silly and out of place. With the addition of the non-DSBM aesthetic of “Alcoholic Invasion,” Sørgelig does a fine job in a style that is overrun by mediocrity. Even though two of the four songs sound similar to the point of being twins, Forever Lost is a fine EP for a new band to start the new year. I am sure I will be seeing their name again as long as I do not wait until the last day of the year to finally pick up their release. While writting this review, I am sure I managed to miss three great releases from other bands.

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