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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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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Kalmankantaja – Waldeinsamkeit [Finland, Black] (2016)

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Even though it is has only been a year since the release of Muinainen, it still feels like ages since Kalmankantaja put out a release. This feeling is due to the fact that in 2014, the Finnish one piece released four full lengths which were all pretty decent and racked with horror. Let us not forget the five splits and one EP also released in 2015. Perhaps 2016 is the year for ten demos from a a band that does not seem to be running out of grief to spill onto a record.

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Kalmankantaja – Muinainen [Finland, DSBM] (2015)

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War Against Yourself Records | 5-13-15

War Against Yourself Records | 5-13-15

I mentioned my frustration at just discovering Kalmankantaja this year despite the fact this Finish depressive black metal band put out 4 records in 2014 with all of them being released from August to November of the same year. Here was a prolific heavy metal act, whose name means “Death Bringer,” that was releasing a billion records without my knowledge. I was furious. Perhaps it is more telling that he band does all their music in their native tongue and has album names which battle with the band name as to be which can more more confusing when spelled out. This was everything I desired in a black metal band.

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Eternal Valley – Ascend To The Unknown [US, Black / Ambient] (2015)

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Self Released | 3-18-15

Self Released | 3-18-15

Sometimes one knows they are going to enjoy a record. A one man black metal project who self releases black metal records about cosmic themes and obliteration? Yep, this should be simple. Eternal Valley was already halfway in the door just by glancing at previous records and album artwork. The deal was sealed however at the oozing synth which washed over the album’s opener “Path To An Astral Existence.” Sometimes riding on convention allows like minded people to flock in droves to a star which just about to collapse and die.

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葬尸湖 (Zuriaake) – 孤雁 (Gu Yan) [China, Black] (2015)

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Pest Productions | 3-28-15

Pest Productions | 3-28-15

A few years ago, I wrote an article on Chinese depressive and atmospheric black metal specifically centered around the label Pest Productions. The label had a treasure trove of wonderful bands from China and also surrounding areas. 葬尸湖 (Zuriaake), 黎明的幻象 (The Illusion of Dawn) , Культура Курения (Smoking Culture), 阴暗之泉 (Dark Fount), and 墓 (Tomb) were some of the bands that came with gloomy album covers with characters scrawled on the front. China, and also Pest Productions has grown in recent months specifically with the weird identity mixup related to US black metal act Ghost Bath. Whatever intentions and misconceptions are related to Ghost Bath and its creators is moot as China is still an interesting place for horrid sounding black metal. If you are new to Chinese black metal, why not start with a release that you probably can not ever get.

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Seme Konj – The Promise of Coffins [Slovenia, Black / Noise] (2014)

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Self Released  | 2014

Self Released | 4-7-14

For the most part, I really enjoy reviewing new material specifically things that are in the current year. As I have found with lesser known and underground metal releases, dates are sort of flexible when it comes to when an audience will hear it. Take for example and their debut The Promise of Coffins. This release is unmistakably a 2014 record coming out in the early months of Spring. The Promise of Coffins went unheard by the majority of the world until this year seeing a tape / cd release by Glossolalia Records. Make no mistake, Seme Konj will probably be only heard by a few more people but suffice to say that many more people will reveal in chaos.

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Ghost Bath – Moonlover [International, DSBM] (2015)

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Northern Silence | 3-17-15

Northern Silence | 3-17-15

One of the most surprising development of this year was the proverbial explosion of Chinese depressive black metal act Ghost Bath. Last year, this site reviewed their debut Funeral which was a soul wrenching experience full of piano and pained cries. Though I shouldn’t be surprised at the potential this band had on a larger audience, it is still exciting to see the project get tossed around between larger sites and blogs. Moonlover is the band’s second release in a short time and continues the focus of emotionally scared black metal which is incredibly sensitive regarding mortality.

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Ethereal Shroud – They Became the Falling Ash [UK, DSBM / Doom] (2015)

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Self Released | 2-21-15

Self Released | 2-21-15

Ethereal Shroud was one of Tape Wyrm’s first reviews back in the early years of 2014. The 2014 cassette release of 2013’s Absolution|Emptiness was a fantastic step into the worlds of sorrow and desolation from a relativity unknown artist. Despite me raving about this project to everyone I knew, Ethereal Shroud has been still hidden from the greater public. Perhaps this will be the year that a dark cloud blots out the sun.

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Kalmankantaja – Metsänkulkija [Finland, DSBM] (2015)

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Self Released | 1-13-15

Self Released | 1-13-15

I wish I could express the level of frustration which came after learning that Kalmankantaja had four albums released in 2014. Here was a haunting depressive black metal band, whose name means “death bearer,” that released all this great material without anyone telling me. While I am slightly joking, the fact that Kalmankantaja has gone this long with out proper attention is a near tragedy since there has been an audience for atmospheric dread for decades.

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