We have had our first silent month of Tape Wyrm, which was devoted to finding lesser known yet interesting metal from a variety of places. While most of these articles and reviews will focus on cassette based underground black and death metal, there will be other things such as splits, EPs, compilations, and full length releases from bands encompassing a myriad of styles. It all isn’t doom and gloom. Well, most of it, but not all of it. As of right now, it is just me hoping that I can do articles, reviews, and highlight reels such as this one. Perhaps in the future, Tape Wyrm can acquire more writers who will work for Magic bulk commons. Perhaps junk rares if they make an impressive mark. If not, then it will just be me, huddled around a tape player, passing the time deciphering xeroxed and hand drawn album covers. Either way it will be absolutely fantastic. These are the records that were released in January that have been the most entertaining.
———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-ETHEREAL SHROUD – ABSOLUTION|EMPTINESS [BRITISH, BLACK] (2013) [UK, DSBM] (2013)
It took me a little bit to realize Absolution | Emptiness was released independently in October of 2013. While I wanted to focus on 2014 releases, I was too stubborn and too awestruck with this release to let it go. Ethereal Shroud is a British black metal act making music of the depressive and atmospheric variety. Absolution | Emptiness is the debut release from a band with one member who goes by the name anonymous. Aside from the lack of any information, Absolution | Emptiness soars above other bedroom black metal projects with lush instrumentation and a creeping voice that chokes the music like dreadful vines.
Albums that take care in their structure are undoubtedly easier to process. Absolution | Emptiness is segmented by three long black metal tracks and two incidental atmosphere tracks. Though what I just said has been done by other bands, Ethereal Shroud’s moments of calm are just as interesting as its fierce black metal. The title track, “Absolution | Emptiness,” echoes with reverberating guitar over string arrangements while synth drone hovers on the horizon. This moment of clarity toggles into the albums closer “Lost in the Cold, Gone is the Light” which combines the aforementioned string arrangements against buried vocals and dominating noise. The important thing about Ethereal Shroud is not the juxtaposition of the two opposing elements, but rather how well the two can work without precedence. There have been many bands who have added atmosphere, but few that have done made it so engaging.INNSMOUTH – CONSUMED BY ELDER SIGN [AUSTRALIA, DEATH] (2014)
I think the fact that Consumed by an Elder Sign’s combination of death metal and Lovecraft was so initially engaging to me, that it received an unfair start. Lovecratian themes run rampant in heavy metal and even though it has been explored by a variety of different styles, hearing it within old school death metal is always entertaining. Innsmouth, from Australia, concerns itself with riffs, darkness, and some of the more interesting lyrics in recent memory. Although the band already has a starting point with Lovecraft, the lyrics on Consumed By Elder Sign are written in a prose that provides dimension to an already engaging record.
“A shadow covers our sight and with the sores on our bodies we are pitiful wretched / By the reckoning of human limitation we should already have succumbed as we drool / We shuffle forward and we curse all the Gods we can bring to mind and those we cannot / And on these windswept heights we laugh like devils and hyenas and like dogs onward crawl”
The level of dismay and otherworldly terror floods Consumed By Elder Sign, convincing the audience that Innsmouth is not just a band using Lovecraft as gimmick. This is a band whose horror could only be told through the lens of old school death metal. It is something that is unique among a deep sea of bands doing similar things.RUN AFTER TO – RUN AFTER TO / GJINN AND DJINN [ITALY, DOOM / TRADITIONAL] (1985)
I ran across Shadow Kingdom Record with Manilla Road’s past two releases. This Pittsburgh based label seems dedicated to preserving traditional heavy metal as well as obscure doom. Run After To was an Italian doom act who served no important role in the development of heavy metal nor had any great impact when they were active. With that said, unearthing something unique and forgotten can be just as entertaining as listening to essential records.
I am making a change to this recommendation and saying to listen to the Gjinn and Djinn demo (tracks 4-9). Released a few years earlier, this demo establishes the band in their traditional doom base and showcases some nice melodies and atmosphere. It is not until the self titled song, however, in which the band elaborates on its sound. This experimentation can be heard fully developed on the self titled demo (tracks 1-3). No longer concerned with 4 minute tracks, it breaks through the prog wall and fully embraces doom for 12 minute lengths. “My Name is Man” may be traveling out of the realm of heavy metal but the heights at which it soars are damn near unforgettable.
History is an interesting topic to consider when listening to forgotten music. On the one hand this band never became apart of a great metal canon yet their music is far beyond accessible. Historty favors the few and lucky and Run After To could have been apart of something greater given the right oppurtunity. sometimes I enjoy thinking of alternate dimensions where Gjinn and Djinn is as essential as Candlemass’ Nightfall.
Kaptain Carbon is the custodian of Tape Wyrm, a mod for Reddit’s r/metal, Creator of Vintage Obscura, and a Reckless Scholar for Dungeon Synth.