Moon – Saturn Exerzitium [Australia, Black] (2020)

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Self released | 6-14-20

So this is an interesting place to start with Moon. While some would think this is a new hot demo from a fresh artist, the entity known as moon has been operating for .. more than 10 years. The Saturn Exerzitium demo is the first release in 5 years following a 2015 full length. The Saturn Exerzitium demo is also a change in pace for the artist as it presents two lengthy instrumental black tracks that despite the lack of vocals presents a world full of horror and cold. While instrumental black usually never retains my interest, the landscapes of misery and toil are vivid in the world on Moon with a complete picture painted by the artist. I do not know if I would approach the other material but for now this is incredibly entertaining.

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Kyriss – Olden Ruins & Miry Depths [Germany, Atmospheric Black / Raw Black] (2020)

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Self Released | 6-9-20

Kyriss, known also as Kyriss the Perverse, was a Keeper of Secrets, a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh, who was active during the Horus Heresy in the early years of the 31st Millennium. Alongside the infamous Bloodthirster Ka’Bandha, a Greater Daemon of the Blood God Khorne, Kyriss served as one of two daemon overlords or “generals” who helped orchestrate the Signus Campaign, in a coordinated effort to lure the Blood Angels Space Marine Legion to the Signus Sector and corrupt them to the worship of the Ruinous Powers.

I am not assuming the band’s name is after this Warhammer 40K lore but I am going to pretend it is since it is pretty cool to read. Now with the potential context of deep fantasy lore in front let us move to the music with is something you would NOT expect given the potential fantasy component. Within the world of Olden Ruins & Miry Depths, lies atmospheric black that is twisted and forgotten to the point of being fossilized. Here among the scarred landscape of where once tall trees stood, is the toiling of witches and oppressive synths. I love this so much and I believe it is the polarization of potential aesthetics that is fueling the greatness.

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Afsky – Ofte jeg drømmer mig død [Denmark, Black] (2020)

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Vendetta Records | 5-12-20

“Tags: black metal, depressive, black metal, depressive blackmetal.” The previous line is not something I initially seek out though I feel atmospheric black is getting back to normal in terms of its output. For a little bit there was a glut of wood themed black metal that was almost indistinguishable from the next. Depressive black can be the same way which is why Afsky is intriguing for its cover depicting the social realist artist H. A. Brendekilde and his most famous painting Udslidt or Worn Out or The Martyr(1889). The use of fine art on covers is nothing new but not only does this painting circumvent the typical artists pillaged for covers but it also transcends the thematic trappings of depressive black with not a noose or suicidal imagery in sight. This is all talking about the visual components to a record that is stunning in its approach and is something that has the potential to be a crossover success among black metal fans and people interested but turned off by its pageantry.

Dekagram – Through The Dark [Norway, Atmospheric Raw Black] (2020)

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Poisonous Sorcery | 4-13-20

Raw atmospheric black or atmospheric raw black could both fit into this aesthetic. While Dekagram sounds ominous and cryptic, it is a unit of measurement equal to 10 grams. That in of itself may have significance but this is perhaps the first black metal act to embrace units of measurement to project their aura. Through the Dark is a compilation of two demos, one of them being a 2018 release and the other, I believe, being new. Whatever the case, the listener is given the experience of 43 minutes of atmospheric freefall not into the soft embrace of pine trees but rather an belfry on top of the most desolate looking church. This compilation is icy, moody, and above all else effective in its efforts to cast the world in darkness.

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Glemsel – Unavngivet [Denmark, Black] (2020)

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Self Released | 3-18-19

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.

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Ukcheansalawit – Tekipuk [Canada, Atmospheric Black] (2020)

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Self Released | 1-20-20

From the cold gloomy lands of Canada comes a slightly atmospheric black metal release with…you guessed it….a black and white tree on the cover. Outside of this very obvious joke, Ukcheansalawit (ûkcheânsâlâwit) debut demo has everything going right to be a memorable exploration of black metal themed after indigenous cultures. While most of these summations could be wrong, the majority of Tekipuk is centered around words of the Mi’kmaq tribe which was one of the largest Native people centered around Canada’s Maritime Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island). Outside of some vague references to Canadian native people and the use of the language, most of the work of Ukcheansalawit remains a mystery aside from a 17 minute demo of synth heavy lo – fi black metal. Perhaps 2020 will see more releases but for now, this release is enough to spark interest in a relatively unexplored area of pan American culture.

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White Death – III [US, Atmospheric Black] (2019)

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Self Released | 6-18-19

If anyone has reads this site for any amount of time, the inclusion of atmospheric black usually comes with some degrees of lofi production. White Death, compared to other raw atmospheric black is relatively clean yet the slime and grime of whatever dirt from outside still lingers on its production. White Death is a bedroom production whose name is unfortunately running up against the Finnish White Death on Werewolf Records. This White Death is from Iowa and its bleak location serves as a setting for a brilliant demo that is full of raw emotion and noise.

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Voidsphere – To Await | To Expect [International, Black / Atmospheric] (2018)

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Amor Fati Productions | 11-15 – 18

I feel that yesterday I didn’t even know what the ПРАВА Коллектив was and now I see it connected to a handful of really cool releases. The Prava Kollektivis a group of unknown musicians making spacey black metal in conjunction with Fallen Empire Records. Just this month there has been hot releases by Arkhtinn and HWWAUOCH which seems connected. Earlier this year, Fallen Empire released the debut by Mahr also known to be associated. This cloak and dagger aura surrounding the group of musicians only adds to the dramatic effect of the music which is serious, direct, and full of mystery. Additionally, all of the bands seem to be going for a visceral take on atmospheric black which has had a long history of being over saturated and formulaic. Taking their cues from bands like Paysage D’Hiver and Darkspace, these bands are out to explore the void and from what Voidsphere bandcamp pages urges, is to “INGEST THE VOID.” Well with an inviation like that I do not know if I could say no.

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VerdensAske – To Abide in Ancient Abysses [Germany, Black] (2018)

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Self Released | 11-7-18

Got it. No Metal Archives page as of yet. Debut demo with two songs and a running time of 17 ish minutes. Nothing else I can find except for the initials of the band members. They are from Germany and that is about it. Its a good thing VerdensAske plays decent mid range black metal which is engaging to the listener otherwise I would have nothing to go on. If you enjoy the third gear pace of bands like Mgla, then you will enjoy the dismal atmosphere offered by VerdensAske. Somewhere between catharsis and a desire for self immolation, like these two tracks which are filled with emotional turmoil and a possibility for spiritual conflagration. Not much information is needed when one’s soul is on fire.

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Svartmálm – Svartmálm [Faroe Islands, Atmospheric Black / Doom] (2018)

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Tutl Records | 2-2-18

I think I just wanted to type in the place Faroe Islands which the description of atmospheric black / doom once in my life. Svartmálm certainly comes from a place not known for its metal and is one of 14 metal bands registered in the history of the Faroe Islands. It is not like this small island is out of reach of the rest of the metal world as it is positioned between Iceland, The United Kingdom, and Scandinavia which all have their histories steeped in extreme metal, it is just the island is now know for bands like Tyr and its breathtaking beauty.

Svartmálm is certainly cinematic in its approach to combine both the edge of black metal to the soothing atmosphere of both doom and folk metal. which the vocals are crips and stalk across the music, the band employs theatric elements which allow their self titled debut to become something more than just the black metal record from the Faroe Islands. The three part closer, “Svartideyði” allows the band to stretch out and shine in becoming the band they truly want to be — which is the weird witches on an isolated island. The only difference between that dream and others like it is this island seemd to be well produced and come with dramatic hooks.