Drycholaeth – Bestial Psychosis [US, Black / Death] (2020)

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Self Released | 12-5-19

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.

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Ænigmatum – Adorned in Wrath [US, Black / Death] (2020)

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Self Released | 5-22-20

There is something about the palette of grey, black and blue that makes a cover so enticing. Even before listening to the newest demo from Ænigmatum, one knows what they are in for. Rather than a blistering black-white-red palette of black/death, one is treated to the twisting catacombs of an alien landscapes where walls breathe and the floors arrest your movement. Adorned in Wrath manages to build a non euclidean temple on the border between accessibility and harshness with melody, hooks that dance in macabre circles with dissonant elements and angular songwriting.

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Antiquary – Celestial Fire / Le Palais Noir [Spain, Black/Death] (2020)

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Self Released | 4-20-20

Even though the Bandcamp page is sort of a mess, these two releases constitute the 2020 output from Spain’s Antiquary. Both of them are short demos with a total running time of no more than 20 minutes. Within those 20 minutes however, the listener is treated to a whirlwind experience of black / death leaning towards melody and structure just with a hanging veil of raw production. I feel this band could exist in another production sphere and be even more striking as their ability to stretch their legs musically collides with a catastrophic production. Still, both demos (?) are well worth your time if you have nothing else but gravedigging to do.

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Altar of Rot – Altar of Rot [US, Black / Death] (2020)

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Self Released | 3-15-20

“Black Metal combining the first and second waves with some primitive thrash influence. Destroy your fucking mind.”

I love the description for this album since it is most certainly not what is advertised. Yes, the Altar of Rot debut has black, death, and thrash influences somewhere close to the second wave but it is nowhere near a primitive nature. This is okay however as what Altar of Rot really is is a party in a debut record which feels like a chair being smashed against your back. From solid riffs to decent production to an atmosphere which grants permission for costumes, Altar of Rot is less a basement band than it is a club show that would be fitting the scent of decaying meat. Ew gross.

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Męka – Ending My Life to Destroy Yours [US, Blackened Death] (2019)

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Redefining Darkness | 2-15-19

I actually am at a lose to what the genres are. I can usually either pick them out or go somewhere else to confirm. That is more difficult when the band has zero internet presence outside a few reviews and their music is a maelstrom of genres and chaos. Enter Męka whoese special character is going to push it into further obscurity. Perhaps this is where it belongs — in some basement corner of existence throwing up strange liquids. If that previous sentence sounded gross, you are halfway to the caustic tone of a band that sounds like it gives less of a shit what you did for half your life. This band is also going to push me to rethink blackened death as a sound as I never truly believed in it. I may still be confused about genres and Męka is at the root of this confusion. Eat glass. Smoke insects. Worship nothing.

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Psyche – Een pathologie van de geneesheer [Netherlands, Black / Death] (2018)

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Self Released | 11=6-18

From the very rough dutch translation the title reads something like Pathology from the Physician or Physician’s Pathology. Furthur translating Psyche’s songs titles reveals a litany of similar themed words such as “Insane,” “Bestial,” “Mercury (?)” and “Cranial.” I am not here to hack my way through Dutch translations rather put into context the debut full length from Psyche, a one metal black metal act that seems to use a variety of different projects for various voices. Psyche’s voice is also the one that sounds like hellish screams inside an abandoned asylum. Aside from the medical themes and metal health motifs which stalk around this record, Psyche’s segments the blistering black / death with moments of guitar solos, soundclips, and a general entertaining approach to something that is rather abysmal on paper. The vocals are something unique and almost entirely inhuman throughout its running time. Despite this however, Een pathologie van de geneesheer never becomes repellent as Pscyhe has found a way to make the collapse of mental structures under the chaos of bestial screams quit pleasing to listen to.

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Cruor Vexillum – Cruor Vexillum [New Zealand, Black] (2018)

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Self Released | 10-21-18

So from rumors, conjecture, and pure speculation, the work of Cruor Vexillum is from “VK” who also may be the spirit behind bands like Diocletian, Temple Nightside, Vassafor, and maybe Irkallian Oracle. I do not know and maybe other people don’t as well. Actually knowing is sort of second to music which is grim and fills a void with more void. Cruor Vexillum is a relatively short release with 4 songs flanked by a procession and benediction. Despite its running time, however, Cruor Vexillum wastes little time in constructing a desecrated temple in which foul offerings are to be made. Through its 4 tracks, the music for Cruor Vexillum weaves and wraps its way around the listener with its guitar work as one of its leading roles. While the vocals are grim and dripping with attitude, the clear guitar and its solos are one of the most interesting parts. Cruor Vexillum may also not be the work of VK which I mentioned before and if its not, that is alright since in the absence of another New Zealand connection we are left with a record which exudes filth and reckless determination.

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U​.​N​.​C​.​U​.​L​.​T – אוּסִיפְרְטְנְסְמַאֶל קַנְטְבְס אַדְרַמַלַס אוֹסְטִיבְם [Brazil, Black / Death / Avant] (2018)

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Berserk Ritual Productions | 05-04-18

Technically, the full name for this release is “Uma Nulificação Catalizadora Ultrapassa os Limites Transcedentais – Ucifrtnsmael Cantvs Adramalas Ostivm : Anti​-​estrutual Formulas Da Genesis Do Anti​-​Mundo” just in case it is easier to do an internet search. Actually searching “אוּסִיפְרְטְנְסְמַאֶל קַנְטְבְס אַדְרַמַלַס אוֹסְטִיבְם” will most certainly bring you to this album as it stands among no others in the vast space of information. This is a weird one and I hope you are ready for some ritual magic.

U​.​N​.​C​.​U​.​L​.​T is theatric and the space of אוּסִיפְרְטְנְסְמַאֶל קַנְטְבְס אַדְרַמַלַס אוֹסְטִיבְם is filled with drama. Aside from the obvious incantations with soundclips of babies crying, the music is constructed in what feels like an impossible space. Strange angles and bizarre structures are hallmarks of a strange album that is made even more strange by ceremonial garb. The fact I can find little information about this band and a South Korean label is the only point of contact only fires my imagination. This could be an instance of dimensional sorcery.

Selling me on something strange is not difficult though U​.​N​.​C​.​U​.​L​.​T has a knack for its own presentation. Being weird does not translate to making a good record. When it does and the oddities and alien qualities of the music work in congress with the uncanny themes, then it is pure magic. I ad no idea what to expect from אוּסִיפְרְטְנְסְמַאֶל קַנְטְבְס אַדְרַמַלַס אוֹסְטִיבְם and looking back I do not know how I felt before opening up this strange portal.

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Dearth – Of Martyrdom and Polluted Faith [US, Black / Death] (2017)

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Transylvanian Tapes | 4-20-18

There is a point where I consider a rerelease of an obscure demo to be apart of the current year. Things released late in December of the past year or even things that went generally without any sort of attention usually gets grouped into the current year since no one is really going to care. Of Martyrdom and Polluted Faith is different for many reasons with the largest one being this digital demo was released in August of 2017 and got minor attention on its initial release. This is why Of Martyrdom and Polluted Faith will be a 2017 demo which is seeing its first physical run in 2018.

If you were the majority of people which missed this when it first released, Dearth is the combination of two members making black metal much like a swirling kaleidoscope of horror and rot. Situated on the US west coast and with members from bands like Xenotaph and Torture Chamber, this demo is more than enough to put you in a foul mood if foul mood is what you desire. For only being a three track demo, Dearth manages to make its 20 minute running time feel like a near eternity spent in some hellish chasm of fear and confrontation.

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Alkymist – Spellcraft Ceremony [Canada, Black / Doom] (2018)

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One of the more confusing things about this project is it sharing a name with a progressive sludge band from Denmark. Though this is not the first time two bands have shared the same name, the fact both of them are unsigned and relatively on equal levels in terms of popularity makes it confusing at first. Just make sure you are in a cathedral of sadness before listening. Check your surroundings. Are there bells tolling in the distance masked by rain?

Spellcraft Ceremony is a debut 30 minute album (?) from a one man project heavily influenced by the works of Ruins of Beverast. I only say that since the tape version of this comes with a Ruins of Beverast cover. Even outside of tribute songs, the general atmosphere of gloom and inescapable doom which permeates this record is palatable. The atmospheres created by one person never feels stretched or thin and works well as a declaration of sadness voiced by one lone soul.

Spellcraft Ceremony currently is up for tape preorder limited to 100 copies. This tape is being released in collaboration with Moriendi Music and Corde Raide Productions. The only familiar thing I found with Corde Raide is being the only label to release Labyrinthique’s Demo MMXVI. Even if you do not want the Ruins of Beverast cover, the digital version for Alkymist is priced at 2 CAD which will buy you a ticket to a land of perpetual dusk.

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