Affliction Vector – Death Comes Supreme [Netherlands, Black] (2020)

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ARGENTO RECORDS | 9-25-20

There is something about artwork depicting Jesus getting run through by demons. This description and accompanying artwork might be ostentatious but it is fitting to Death Comes Supreme, a grand declaration of bestial noise. The Bandcamp page sports names like Mayhem, Voivod, and Bolt Thrower which are three different styles but all fall under one focus of ruinous chaos. While the page only has one song, which cuts off at the end, Affliction Vector comes shambling to the forefront like some stuttering specter with claws and a terrifying presence. Affliction Vector reminds us of the dangerous quality of black metal only in the fact that its rough edges have a chance of carrying disease. This is a haunted releases and the fraying of ones minds under intense spiritual stress.

Old Tower – The Last Eidolon [Netherlands, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Profound Lore | 4 -24-20

Old Tower was one of dungeon synth’s biggest success stories. From the 2017 release of The Rise of the Specter to the 2017 Bandcamp article, which for a time feature the album cover as its main graphic, to the 2018 release of Stellary Wisdom on Profound Lore, Old Tower seemed to propel from the basement to playing real live shows at real live festivals with real live people. This success story was also cheered on by the community as Old Tower’s music, despite its increasing popularity was never maligned or questioned in terms of authenticity as this Dutch composer paid tribute to dungeon synths history with dark ruminating passages of dungeon dwelling symphonies. The Last Eidolon comes after the composer’s foray into the bleaker dark ambient genre with the result being a slower, darker, more minimalist take on traditional dungeon synth. This is dungeon synth as it is suffocated by dark ambient as the last few regal breathes are consumed by the void.

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Ulk – This Divine Shelter [Netherlands, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 3-15-20

Note: This is perhaps going to be the start of me getting back into dungeon synth. I have written about this genre for many years on various sites and got really involved with the scene. For the past few years I have strayed away from the sound but with the current climate and the fact I will be home most days for the next few weeks, maybe this will be a good time to settle in with some new releases.

Ulk is relatively new with only a few albums released since last year. This was on the new and notable section of Bandcamp and was particulary striking even from the cover as its worn green saturation promised the viewer immersion into a fantasy world filled with regal horns and hazy landscapes of spires. This Divine Shelter fufilled this promise with a dreamscape of a record that is majestic in its undertaking and completely unassuming in its approach.

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Himelvaruwe – Het ondenkbare [Netherlands, Black] (2019)

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Self Released, 6-3-2019

Do not let the cover fool you. This is not woozy new age though both have a penchant for mystical soundscapes. I reviewed Himelvaruwe in 2017 with the demo CCIII. I was pleased and surprised there was so much activity between that demo and this as the operator T.J seems to work the best in mania. Just the work in Himelvaruwe alone constitutes productivity let alone his other work in Kaffaljidhma, Ancient Morass, and Mirre.

I enjoy how people approach records and coming from a long background in dungeon synth, the serial release schedule is just something that some bands do. Het ondenkbare is the 7th release in a few short years and the 5th demo for the project. It continues, visually, a motif that shares a design with 2018’s Het onkenbare. Together the two demos translates roughly to “The Public / The Unthinkable” and at least as of now share the same surreal approach to raw black metal with a heavy use of dreamy synth. I found myself drawn to this release the more and more I listened to it and is something that will be pleasing for people with very narrow interests.

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Defacement – Deviant [Netherlands, Death / Black] (2019)

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Self Released | 1-19-19

And so this break a nice running streak of black and white covers. It is okay. This is completely worth it. It is nice to get surprised and even knocked down by a sound. Defacement seems to be the new band created by members of a black metal outfit called Deathcrush. While I only listened to a few songs from Deathcrush, I feel the direction of this new outfit is much more appealing to a wider audience. Who is that audience? Well, people who like to hear nightmarish terror in musical form. From song titles, to the abstract cover, Defacement offers inexplicable unease which can not be described or discussed rather just embraced in swirling madness. This is a release which is both simple in its execution and cavernous in its success.

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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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Himelvaruwe – CCIII [Netherlands, Raw Black / Ambient] (2017)

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Self Released | 5-25-17

Yes. this is the weird shit I come to the internet for. From the very fitting grainy cover to the fact that since its release back in May, I have heard very little of this project proves that this is a great find. to be honest, I started this review months ago and let it go to draft only to find it sitting waiting for me. What I realized is this sound is still pleasing and still exciting even after these many months.

The ambient side of this project is important as the swirling atmosphere is completed by the distant and fading memory of black metal. Similar to things like Paysage D’hiver, these types of releases rely on the support of people who want to hear music that is closest to white noise as possible. When discussing fidelity and choices in sound production, Himelvaruwe succeeds at brining the sound perhaps to the edge of music/noise while still retaining its emotional components. I am glad I found this after so many months.

there are a lot of releases in 2017, and sometimes releases just sit on shelves without he attention it deserves. This band has not done anything outside of this demo but still has some updates regarding physical copies of this demo. I am going to strive to make it a point to follow this act and make sure I listen and report the same month as their next release. No promises though.

Vreemdeling – Demo [Netherlands, Black] (2016)

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The Throat | 9-15-16

The Throat | 9-15-16

Image is important in metal. while it is not a paramount aspect in music, it certainly helps an act stand out among the thousands of peers which all resides on the same Bandcamp page. There are sometimes when a lack of accessibility and information can be that edge which gets an act noticed. Take Vreemdeling whose lack of information and song titles and clear production has coalesced into a demo which is so repellent it makes me what to stay here longer.

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Iskandr – Heilig Land [Netherlands, Black] (2016)

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Haeresis Noviomagi |6-5-16

Haeresis Noviomagi |6-5-16

I love it when band names are autocorrected in search engines so finding them is even more of an adventure. No worries as I think myself and Iskandr have already met, or atleast have been introduced between friends. Iskandr is a tortured soul from the Netherlands who also does duties in Lubbert Das and Turia both excellent bands with excellent releases in 2015. Where Both previous bands were multiple in nature, the man known as “O” breaks out for a hellish ride through grief and suffering.

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Turia – Dor [Netherlands, Black] (2015)

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Haeresis Noviomagi | 11-15-15

Haeresis Noviomagi | 11-15-15

I can say with certainty I have loved everything the Dutch label Haeresis Noviomagi has released. I can say this since it has only been two cassettes. they have been really good cassettes though. the last Haeresis Noviomagi cassette was Lubbert Das, a particularly mind melting black metal which seemed to be dedicated to an old Bosch painting. Turia follows Lubbert Das in continuing the undercurrent of harrowing Dutch black metal which sounds like the last bastion of sanity being razed to the ground.

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