Kvad – Cold & Dark, As Life [Norway, Atmospheric / Raw Black] (2022)

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Self Released | 6-10-22

It is difficult to type the phrase Norwegian black metal” and not have it anchor to a certain time period. For better or worse this county and style elicits certain images which is a shame for bands and artists who are just making music for the void. Kvad is related to another Norwegian black metal act Darkest Bethlehem who had one single in 2021. Cold & Dark, As Life, for Kvad, represents the debut full length following an EP in 2021. This seems like the start for the act with an explosive 30 minute statement that is full of energy and entropy. There are obvious nods to Norway’s history in black metal with frostbitten aesthetics yet Kvad succeeds as a raw black act that sculpts landscapes of torment and demise. Each of the tracks which run 4-5 minutes feel like a swirling void where the vocals bounce around walls of madness. This is truly music for the distraught and Kvad commands its like a symphony.

SENTENCED 2 DIE – NO REASON TO LIVE [US, Death] (2022)

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Maggot Stomp Record | 5-18-22

I feel whenever I go to Maggot Stomp, they are going to have a specific sound. Usually when I go to Maggot Stomp, I know I am going to be generally pleased and possibly amazed by most of the things they have to offer. Sentenced 2 Die might have the funniest / odd way of presenting their name but this is part and parcel to a lack of care they have for their image. Yes, their name is kinda cheesy and yes their EP title leaves much to imagination and technically yes, their debut came out in November of 2021, but all of this can be forgotten since the presence of disgusting riffs which doesn’t give a fuck what you think. SENTENCED 2 DIE is being repackaged with different art on a larger label and hopefully all of this spectacle brings in more people as the sound of NO REASON TO LIVE is nothing but a party in a basement where no one cares about anything except for grooving decay.

Various – Black Steel from the Heart of the World [Finland, Raw Black] (2022)

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Sol / Deviant Records

“Local scenes have always been crucial nuclei of the Black Metal underground. Separated from their contexts many of the most important releases we know would not have emerged the way they eventually did. Mutual inspiration, reciprocal challenging, the creative flux of ideas and at times decades long personal ties of comradeship form invaluable dynamics – a rich multitude of perspectives on the one hand, common distinctive sounds and patterns on the other. One of such spheres that constantly managed to excite us over the past years is the obscure Black Metal underground of the Jyväskylä area in the western Finnish Lakeland. Here at the dark, cold, hilly and forested slopes of the Jyväskylä ridge already plenty of Deviant Records releases originated. “Black Steel from the Heart of the World” offers a gathering of seven closely connected entities, each deeply rooted in ecstatic Black Metal yet each with their very own share of this somewhat intangible moonstruck lunacy that is born under the same moon, the same stars, the same night sky.

I feel including the Bandcamp description was important for this compilation as it captures to scope and thesis for this collection. This is also important since the music from this compilation is cast without much information. From far as I can tell most of the material is new or unreleased from these seven acts. This is exciting especially when given a focus as this is a very interconnected scene of Finnish raw black from a local region of a country. Some of these bands share members and most all of them have probably played on the same shows. there is a cohesiveness when presented with a time and place and Black Steel from the Heart of the World does just that in the loudest way possible.

Black Steel from the Heart of the World by Various

Dripping Decay – Watching You Rot [US, Death] (2021)

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Self Released | 12-31-21

Never discount the end of the year. It’s tempting to call it quits in mid-November, but there’s always something that could come out day-of that shakes it up. Dripping Decay is from Portland, OR – a region that’s developed one hell of a death metal pedigree these last few years. The Watching You Rot demo is seven tracks of rolling and ripping death metal with a significant grind aesthetic and intense barked growls. Torture Rack’s also from Portland, and I had to check if they had members in Dripping Decay given how both bands excel in writing short death metal songs that aren’t always entirely deathgrind. Short and sweet but oh so sweet, like putrid maggots. The half-chug breakdown midway through “Sadistic Excruciator” is the highlight.

Watching You Rot by Dripping Decay

Deathless Void – DEMO MMXXI [Netherlands, Death / Black] (2022)

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Iron Bonehead | 2-4-22

Well this is it. A release which has all of the the parts that are cool and interesting. Iron Bonehead vinyl / tape. Death / Black. Netherlands. Cryptic album cover. Even with three or two of these, I would be interested but all four makes for an exciting time. Deathless Void is a new entry into the world with this debut demo proudly displaying the bandmembers as initials. Through three blistering tracks the listener is treated to a chaotic world which is abrasive yet accessible. Dynamic riffs and a versatile sound palette makes for an easy onboarding experience into something that is potentially dangerous. This is a sound in which things seem the most intriguing and full of deathless life. Though this whole package could have been constructed based on things the internet likes, to hear it in real life hits just the same.

DEMO MMXXI by Deathless Void

Penny Coffin – ΤΕΦΡΑ / ΣΚΕΛΕΤΙΚΟ ΣΚΟΤΑΔΙ [Scotland / Greece, Death / Doom] (2021 / 2022)

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Dry Cough Records | 1-15-22

ΤΕΦΡΑ / ΣΚΕΛΕΤΙΚΟ ΣΚΟΤΑΔΙ is kind of a compilation, kind of bonus material: it comprises Penny Coffin’s first two demos, but the second demo just so happened to be concurrently self-released by the band when this release was issued. Dry Cough Records thoroughly impressed me last year with incredible releases from Vaticinal Rites (my non-LP of the year), Slimelord, Plague Patrol, and Gouger; this is only another addition in an already stellar catalogue. Penny Coffin exhibits what I like to call “dissolving death metal”: death metal with hollow production, hoarse vocals, and huge layered guitars; as if one is being dissolved in acid. The first half demonstrates that caustic, primitive attitude most readily, while the second half introduces hyper-fast riffing and roar vocals. Though from two completely different recording sessions, the compilation flows strongly – the second half’s gradual introduction of gear-grinding guitars works perfectly as augmented doom. “Confinement” from the first demo and “Skeletal Darkness” from the second are the compilation’s two strongest tracks, with the latter’s fading three-note pulse eerily peering out from the gloom.

ΤΕΦΡΑ / ΣΚΕΛΕΤΙΚΟ ΣΚΟΤΑΔΙ by Penny Coffin

Blood Ouroboros – Demo MMXXII [USA, Black / Death] (2022)

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Self Released | 2-14-22

This is one of the coolest demos I’ve heard in the last few years – and that superlative isn’t for its own sake. Blood Ouroboros put out their first equally-awesome demo in 2020, which captured the attention of not a few extreme metallers who like their guitar leads at that curious superposition of melody. Two years later, and we have another – the appropriately titled Demo MMXXII. This leads from the very start with pseudo-punky black / death rhythms and chugs that show remarkable songcraft abilities within this two-piece. The production has that ever so slight guitar crunch to it, which only adds to the wrung-out growls. It’s all full and fire – and full of fire. On their Bandcamp page, the band implores “any label” who wants to release on tape to get in touch with them. I can only hope that this write-up into the aether will help them with that goal. Besides, I want one.

Demo MMXXII by Blood Ouroboros

Dracoempericon – Dracoempericon [Australia, Death / Black] (2021)

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Self Released | 11-14-21

Kap started off the year with reminding us that vegetables are a decent addition to one’s diet, and exercise will occasionally benefit your body and mind. I’m going to kick off my first post of the year with one of those albums that I’m pretty sure all 40 listeners on YouTube are people I know from the Discord network where it was shared. (Indeed, a Google search of this album brought up all of their Last.FM networks.) Dracompericon has no page on the Metal Archives, no member information, and no presence on social media outside of a lonesome Instagram account… and yet they are undeniably rooted in the fiery bowels of Australian black / death. Even the release date is suspect; the YouTube videos say November 2021, but that’s likely the date of upload and not the date of release. Even more so, one must wonder who is a part of Dracoempericon – this LP blasts out the gate with that ever-so-slightly reverbed production and exceedingly constructed extreme metal. To what other bands can I compare Dracompericon – and perhaps muse on potential membership? Well, I hear a bit of the frenetic spider-hand guitar playing that might point to Horror Illogium of Vomitor and Portal. There’s a bouncy bass aesthetic that doesn’t sound too out of place from StarGazer, though with such an emphasis on capital-A Atmospherics with hints of melody poking through the discord on the longer compositions such as “The Moon Is An Eye”. Whether a late addition to 2021 or an early favorite for 2022, Dracoempericon is an out-of-nowhere masterful addition to the Australian black / death canon.

Check out the LP on the band’s YouTube channel here.

Faceless Entity – The Great Anguish of Rapture [Netherlands, Raw Black] (2022)

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Argento Records | 4-15-22

We do not have much to go on at this point. All we have from the Netherlands based Faceless entity is one track from their new full length, a previous release, and a bunch of images and thematics that seem really fucking cool. From just the sound profile of the preview track “Decaying Banners of Existence” when compared to the multipart segments for their 2017 full length In Via ad Nusquam, Facelsss Entity has made great strides in terms of sound. While both of them are still in the raw black universe, “Decaying Banners of Existence” cuts with a more robust sound while still sounding as menacing as recently freed banshees. Combine this is the spectral ectoplasm cover and and air of mystery which builds walls around this release and one could be excused from becoming excited. I will wait until April but everything for this new full length is a promising escape into the void.

Smoke – Ralvurahvavuimago [Netherlands, Raw Black] (2022)

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The Throat | 1-5-22

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This is where we are going to have to clarify a few things. Ralvurahvavuimago by the Dutch black metal project Smoke was released on tape in 2012. You might have missed it. The Throat is a Dutch label that not only releases new works but unearths obscure releases from the past that you might have missed. I believe I would have remembered Ralvurahvavuimago as it has the capacity to make its lister physically ill. With a wall of noise and chaos which pull at the core of its audience, Smoke is the embodiment of of terror. Part of my excitement comes from discovering this label as one more resource into Dutch black metal as it continues to be a region of dark and never-ending misery. This is said in the highest regard as after listening to Ralvurahvavuimago, I need to lay down for a bit and rest.