This is a 2021 review of a 2020 tape release of a 2019 release by the Austrian artist An Old Sad Ghost. It is without a proper year which is why it feels so at home drifting in the passages of time and space. I remember An Old Sad Ghost’s contributions to the Dungeon Synth Compilation project in 2017 and how amazed I was at their attentiveness to atmosphere. Looking at the discography from the artist , one is cast into a world of gothic gloom with monochrome releases which reach out of darkness like tombstones. Der Letzte Koenig | Der Erste Koenig is a set of releases from 2019 which has been enshrined as a tape release from Gondolin Records. Initially popular upon its release, An Old Sad Ghost is adorned with another round of attention to this amazing release which has not lost any of its grim luster as it still conjures images if tall spires in mist and outlines of skeletal trees. This is dungeon synth for fans of classic depressive atmospheres that is enhanced by its attention to detail. This is neoclassical dungeon synth which plays melodies from pipe organs in the distance.
LEt us all go through this together. If you release a demo late into the year and/or it was so limited that it never made a mark on the internet, then you get to release it again and I get to include it in the current year for end of the year lists. Now that we have that out of the way, welcome ruin and rot. Much like what the Bandcamp page said, this demo is for fans of Grave and Morbid Angel but I am going to go a step further and say it is for fans of Grave and Morbid Angel and haunted unfinished basements. Drycholaeth (Old Welsh? for Spectral?) is a imposing presence which emanates weirdness and ferocity at a lo fi length. I am glad I didn’t catch this late last year since I would be frantically calling everyone I knew.
This review is going to encompass the three released by The Harbinger from August 27th of 2019 to September 10th of 2019. The three releases which spanned those few weeks make up the entirty of work from The Harbinger. It is strange to highlight such a limited collection of work but the three releases from this artist show such promise and ability, it is difficult not to get excited. Through awkwardly designed album covers and cryptic veils of flowery text, these three releases (The Consecrated Barrow, The Convocation of Forgotten Gods, The Absolution of The Blind God) are masterful in their silent declaration in a world that seems crafted for the artist but has space for the listener to observe.
This EP was tagged under the genre of “atmospheric black,” though I feel we are going to collectively move past any assumptions regarding sound. Glemsel is a trio from Denmark whose first statement in this heavy metal world comes by way of Unavngivet — a powerful release full of spite, longing, and heavy textures. Unavngivet comes in as a longer EP at almost 30 minutes though this time is truly spent crafting an emotional experience, which for anyone who does not speak Danish, is going to remain a mystery. Beyond lingual comprehension, however, the work of Glemsel and its seething attitude regarding life and death transcends spoken words and washes over the listener in cascading riffs.
It should be noted that all proceeds for this cassette release will be going to the Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) Bushfire Emergency Fund. Despite the monetary contributions from this new death metal act, I can appreciate the sentiment, especially given the band being from Australia. This cover is everything I love about finding tapes on the internet. Ripped from an old RPG manual and photocopied 10 times, the aesthetic of thick death over thin pages is something that has always drawn me. Miserable Creature has something here and I am excited to see this band progress over the next year in a crowding genre of lo-fi death. If anything this band possesses a party spirit which is sure to shake coffins and wake the dead.
With a name like Mental Casket, one is going to except a certain level of grime that hopefully covers a coffin in a basement. This is it. It is all here. With a dedication to Florida style death and less of a concern for actually cropping their cover, the debut demo from Mental Casket comes just as you expected and always wanted. Though the production is lacking as per the style, the strength of Mental Casket rests in the bands ability to write riffs that stalk through the night and animate these corpses that are strewn upon the ground.
I am going to be honest in saying finding this demo was happenstance as I was saw the German translation for Sorcery was Hexerei. Hexerei actually is more akin to witchery / witchcraft but Sorcery is one of the easiest connections. I may have been searching for it when seeing a German Magic the Gathering card and seeing the word “Hexerei” and finding it cool. Whatever the case, I stumbled upon a 2019 that is full of grief and grime that has an attitude from here to the dark woods it probably crawled out of. This drips with aesthetic and the fact I found it randomly makes me wonder what other hellish treats are scattered in those woods.
Unsurprising, Rothadás translates to “Rot” in the native tongue or maybe something like putrefaction or putrescence. whatever the case, it is gross and the sound of this new demo (?) is nothing but the warm smell of death. Rothadás is new to the point of not having any reliable points of information. I know there isnt going to be volumes written on this Hungarian death/doom outfit but it would be nice to see if they look as spooky as they sound. Here in the States, it is getting a little cooler and October is just around the corner. Rothadás is the sound of dying and for all intents and purposes is everything you need to get in the mood for death.
The Danish translation for the album title is something to the akin of “Four Problems against Mankind.” This isn’t a reference to any book or literary work so it is a mystery until I learn Danish. This semi cryptic beginning is an overture to a black metal release that is wrought with tension and obscurity. Skravl is wound in emotion and uses its black metal structure as a sort of tension/release which is far from unique though works in every sense for this record. The 5 minute track is the only one available on the ultra dark Bandcamp page and I do not expect any more information from this project rather Skravl will be entirely shrouded in cathartic mystery.
Cool Name. Cool Art. Cool Sound. This is a good start to a one song demo preview for an album releasing in a month. Usually I do not care too much about singles but Void Wraith’s first impression is immense and potential for a full album of haunted ice makes my soul shiver. Whether or not it is the razor sharp vocals or the near chaotic collapse of the percussion, “I” is an explosion of spectral fury which is both icy and boiling hot with emotion.