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.

Kjedsomhet – Reh. MMXXII – Horrors Of The Dungeon [Italy, Raw Black] (2022)

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Self Released | 1-4-22

We are going to start the year off right with some exercise, better eating, and horrid sounds from the dungeon. Kjedsomhet is an Italian black metal project that might be one person or a group of musicians working at a very quick pace. Since November 2021, this project has released four full lengths, two EPs, and one Rehearsal/Demo we are reviewing here. The way Kjedsomhet uses releases is reactionary as the tracks tend to be quite lengthy resulting in a lot of material that might not even be distinguishable from each other. The world of Kjedsomhet is bleak and tracks like the 20 minute opener “Fangehullets Redsler” (Danish for Horrors Of The Dungeon) feel like magical invocations to some horrid creature from the void. It is noisy, repetitive, and ultimately devoid of compassion. Horrors of the Dungeon poses lots of questions with not all of them being answered. Perhaps 2022 will bring closure to these inquires but for now we have a very gross declaration of putridity.

Albionic Hermeticism – Brittonic Ways [France, Black] (2021)

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The Hermetic Order of Ytene | 10-15-21

The Hermetic Order of Ytene is a collective of black metal and experimental music bands based out of the UK and France. Naturally, their lyrical themes primarily explore esotericism with a distinctly UK volkisch bent. As far as can be told, the primary creator behind most of these projects goes by the pseudonym “O.W.G.A.” – of which Auld Ridge’s Consanguineous Tales of Bloodshed and Treachery has ended up being one of my favorites of the year with its blend of furiously riffy black metal and neofolk. Albionic Hermeticism is another (awesome) part of the Order – though this band plays more straightforward black metal with some minor death metal influences. Where Auld Ridge is sublime, Albionic Hermeticism is raucous; this release has far more discord and way less gorgeous melody compared to Auld Ridge, though still firmly within “classic” black metal aesthetics. Two stand-out tracks include “Ciele Uppan Fells” with its tupa-tupa beat and “Summon’d Orlaeg” in the brash 11 minutes of fire.

ꙂꙨѮŮӜŮѮꙨꙂ – ŶᾦϚӾѺᾦѺӾϚᾦŶ [Iceland, Experimental Black / Death] (2021)

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Self Released | 10-8-21

Alright, I’ll be frank: I hate the aesthetic here. Esoteric letter-dumps make me think of hard drive failures, not occultism. Anyone can use alt codes! But if this demo were judged on cover alone, then it would be a mistake; this is some serious experimental shit. When people hear the phrase “Icelandic black metal”, they’ll either think “oh you mean hollow, dissonant black metal with complex song structures” or “what’s a black metal, and what are you doing in my kitchen”. ꙂꙨѮŮӜŮѮꙨꙂ (please don’t crash my browser) hits different: instead, we have lo-fi black / death with significant drone influence. Imagine a Sunn O))) and Ride for Revenge crossover album (at the risk of entertaining Pitchfork-esque analogiers): you have the drone and hoarse vocal collaborations taken by the former and the Tartarean black metal of the latter. Bassy chomps serve as the analogue to guitars, with filtered protestations serving what can only be loosely described as a vocal mix. This demo is far up there for anyone even remotely interested in the “experimental” tag, and at 28 minutes it’s the perfect length for wanting more without having less. Tracks 3, 4, and 7 are the most awesomely unsettling; but that’s like asking “which episode of The Prisoner should we watch tonight”. It’s going to be weird no matter what.

ŶᾦϚӾѺᾦѺӾϚᾦŶ by ꙂꙨѮŮӜŮѮꙨꙂ

Weathered Crest – Blossoming Of The Paths [Austria, Raw Black] (2021)

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Self Released | 10-13-21

Somewhere in the dark forests (?) of Austria lies a hovel in which a creature stirs. This creature has bene apart of projects like Brånd and Kinga and is the work of Vritra. While also running the label that releases work from all of these projects, Vritra seems to be at the center of a dark and uncaring world. Blossoming Of The Paths is the first full length from the project Weathered Crest and similar to other entities, it is a sharp and crude extension of unprocessed emotions. With a wall of noise that the music barley breaks, Weathered Crest makes music in the same way objects fall downhill with the momentum of emotion and mood dictating the direction. Abrupt starts and stops are only respites from an avalanche of black poison which is at the center if this recording. I have already expressed my love for noisy black metal and the tone employed by Weathered Crest is so fitting to its atmosphere as Blossoming Of The Paths is the underside of a cinder block left out in some cold field for years. It is ugly, raw, and entirely cathartic.

Winter Lantern / Possession Cult – Split [US, Raw Black] (2021)

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Self Released | 9-1-21

Both Winter Lantern and Possession Cult are from the US and both of them seem to be drawn together by an shared interest in vampyric blood letting. The tag of vampyric black metal may seem obvious or even too niche for mention but its combination produces, mostly, raw black metal that has thrown itself to the whims of aesthetics. I enjoy when artists allow themselves to be carried by theatrics and the undying love for the undead has broad appeal for people outside the raw black sphere of interest. The union of both artists is ugly only in that the sound for each side is raw and soiled and complexly fitting for its intention. Possession Cult is the hideous creature locked away in some basement while winter Lantern is the specter that haunts the spires of this castle. Both are entirely unique and each one is terrifying in its approach.

Sovnya – Sovnya [US, Raw Black / Punk] (2021)

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Self Released | 8-31-21

I fist would like to give a special thanks to whoever designed the cover for Sovnya’s self titled debut as I feel it is a magnet for anyone who seeks out visual low fidelity. The raw cover is similar to other raw black metal but its use of mostly white and light blue is unique especially when paired with more of a punk sound. Sovnya is from New Jersey and their debut only totals about nine minutes with three of it being spent in noisy space. It is within these nine minutes though, the band has ample time to lob a brick at its listeners. With as much attitude as ample chaos, Sovnya positions themselves in an interesting space where the ruin of sound propels the music towards entertaining conclusions. As mentioned before, the use of noise and space in such a short timeframe shows a band that is not in a hurry to make anything commercial or even accessible to listeners. Sovnya is making music the way they want to and with the time they have they have chosen things that deconstruct reality.

Thecodontion / Vessel of Iniquity – The Permian-Triassic Extinction Event [Italy / UK, Death / Black / Noise] (2021)

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I, Voidhanger | 9-3-21

The Permian-Triassic boundary is a great mystery of geological science: an event in which over 83 percent of all genera died. This period separates the Paleozoic Era from the Mesozoic Era – two of the great eras in our planet’s history. If you were a 6-year-old obsessed with dinosaurs like I was (or a 29-year-old like me now for whom that obsession still lives!), you might recall that the Mesozoic Era was when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. So what better two bands to explore this event than Thecodontion and Vessel of Iniquity? Thecodontion brings two black-and-death metal tracks from the Supercontinent recording sessions, which was my #4 album of 2020. These explore two taxa that emerged after the extinction, heralding the start of the Age of Reptiles, using dead-serious and extraordinarily researched history of both species’ classification schemes. Both tracks feature the band’s characteristic drum-and-bass approach to death metal with octave pedals to produce a unique, clean “lead guitar” tone. They’re riffy, clean, and filled with evocative solos that will click for fans of last year’s LP. And yet for this life to have flourished, death first occurred – that’s where Vessel of Iniquity comes in. “The Great Dying” is another name for the extinction event, and Vessel of Iniquity’s mixture of black metal and noise is perfectly suited for the harrowing, slow death brought to tens of millions of species. The track’s eleven minutes begin with a roaring wall-of-noise that gradually settles into a slow dread, later culminating in SP White’s layered shrieks and mournful guitar strums. Two stories of the same history – one of life, one of death – and an excellent split for all fans of extreme metal.

Revolted Excrescence – Ritual Violence [US, Death / Black] (2021)

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Self Released | 7-29-21

Dirty, filthy, destructive death metal demo that sounds like it’s straight out of the Midwest USA in 1991. The production is grating (and took me a second to get used to), but at the end I felt like I listened a modern band that gets as close to the sound of Necrovore and Rottrevore as the best of them. It’s astoundingly captured that raw basement death metal feeling, from the gory dual-growls and caustic slow guitar leads. It never feels its 20-minute length either; the title track alone deserved immediate replays after its eight minutes are up. I love that – a death metal release that isn’t afraid to capital-D doom in context of Sempiternal Deathreign, Torture Rack, or Cianide as opposed to reliance on far-far-downtuning guitars. Each dirge on “Lord of Misery” hits like a grimy brick; the spoken word intro and mid-song skank beat of the title track inspire violent head-nodding; the deep snarl and dungeon-guitar solos on “Homocidal Erotic Torment” slay. These guys need to be watched for future execrations.

Gramarye – Spellbound in Black Majesty [US, Black] (2021)

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Signal Rex | 6-18-21

Gramarye is a new band on the scene from Minneapolis, Minnesota – a land that rivals much of North America in its cold winters. Given that Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan are pretty darn far inland, it’s no wonder they get some extreme temperatures on both sides of the equation. (See also: Fairbanks, Alaska – where 100 degree Fahrenheit days are not uncommon.) This is Gramarye’s second demo, released just several months after the first one. It’s 21 minutes of raw black metal and echoing vocals, with the guitar fuzz taking center-stage. Lord Ülzetaere (awesome name) roars on this one, throwing all kinds of manic vocal approximations of shrieking ghouls, bellowing ghosts, and associated distorted mayhem. There are some cool little bookends that make each track unique – with “Vomit from the Serpent’s Mouth” finishes in that curious noise akin to some Portal tracks in their early albums. The title track ends with swirling synths and dungeon-esque effects, recalling the creepier side of Paysage d’Hiver’s “Kerker”. Only three months til Halloween.