Fathomage – Autumn’s Dawn, Winter’s Darkness [Australia, Epic Black / Dungeon Synth] (2023)


Self Released | 3-10-23

For anyone curious, the cover for this record is “Multnomah Falls” by Albert Bierstadt. The use of canonical western art in black metal album covers is wild and hilarious especially given that I would like to know what Bierstadt, and maybe the rest of the Hudson River School painters, would think about their work being paired with atmospheric black metal. If I would hazard a guess and as long as Bierstadt was cool, he would find this paring complementary. Fathomage is an Australian act with lyrical themes ranging from fantasy to Christianity. Autumn’s Dawn, Winter’s Darkness is the seventh full length album since 2018 and honestly the sound feels so much more accomplished than what one would expect from a self released Bandcamp album. Fathomage feels like they have much more to investigate beyond this album including some of the lyrical content and a dark ambient beginning. For now one can rest assured that Autumn’s Dawn, Winter’s Darkness is a fantastic album from an artist that has been operating in the shadows way too long. Bierstadt would be proud.

Astarot – Journey from Melancholy Landscape II [Mexico, Dark Ambient] (2023)


Self Released | 3-3-23

Journey from Melancholy Landscape II is a “compilation of Dark Ambient / NeoFolk / Neoclassical tracks from 2017-2021.” This is the second volume of ambient tracks with the first being a 2017 collection of ambient tracks from 2012-2016. It is a strange thing to only have a relationship with one style of music from an artist. Even though Astarot is a black metal act, these two compilations are entirely in a separate space. This space is contemplative, emotional, and eerily mystical in its foundations. Ambient tracks within black metal records are suppose to set mood and tone and now removed and placed within their own album, that thematic aura echoes off each other. While I enjoy listening to black metal, I am thankful these types of songs can be enjoyed on their own as they possess a personality that can be appreciated. If this type of stuff is interesting, one might be inclined to travel over to the 2023 release De Mystica Silva ad Cosmos which is the same type of atmosphere just added with atmospheric black metal. Astarot seems to deal in the trade of ambience and Journey from Melancholy Landscape II is a testament to that.

Gallery of Shame – Absolute Silence [Canada, Raw Black] (2018)


Self Released | 09-31-18

There are few things in this world which get me interested like a one track demo that sounds like broken glass and looks like photocopied misery. Gallery of Shame barely exists with the only way of acquiring a cassette is to write and email to what I assume is the creator. I do not think Ill ever see this physically but at least int he digital realm, Absolute Silence is a harbinger of disease with a plague of lo fi misery following in its wake. I use the tag “raw black” only as a distinction between the other bedroom black metal that doesn’t reveal in the atmosphere of broken noise. Gallery of Shame not only reveals in it but seems to be empowered by antisocial guitar tones, trashcan drums, and razor shredded vocals. While these elements are at anyone’s disposal, it takes a certain project to turn mounds of debris into a kingdom of misery and rot.

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Fortress Of The Olden Days – Night Of Sacrifice [Germany, Raw / Atmospheric Black] (2018)


Self Released | 4-15-18

I do not think I am completely on board with the artist name for this German project or even the song titles which make up a large part of the aesthetic. From something that looks like it could be dungeon synth to an aesthetic which looks moody in its disposition. Night of Sacrifice, the debut from Fortress of the Olden Days seems like a release which has a lot of problems. Perhaps the thing which makes it okay is the uncompromising howl of misery.

Night of Sacrifice spreads itself over three lengthy tracks with two interludes acting as segment. Similar to the texture of things like Paysage D’hiver, Fortress of the Olden Days takes the mystic qualities of atmospheric black and rubs soil into open wounds giving it a distinct primal quality which feels like the onset of hypothermia. The production and direction of this demo (?) excels due to the creators command over both the music and oddly enough the aesthetic.

Fortress Of The Olden Days is one of the multiple projects piloted by the creator known as Stulpert. While no projects such as Zalmoxis, Ås, or Fortress Of The Olden Days have reach critical attention, the work and aesthetic , as a collective, seems to be working towards something grand. If anything you can rest assured known there is vile dissonance being made in Germany and it is as terrifying as you think.

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Lord Rot / VHS – Split [Scotland / Canada, Death / Black] (2018)


Self Released | 2-13-18

I do not know why this makes sense but it does. The split between Lord Rot and VHS allows one to experience two different types of horror. This is why I have constantly praised the ideas of split as you are allowed the opportunity to come into a release that is curated by more than one band. For the most part the aesthetic is aligned and in other cases, it is the synergy between two types of horrors which sets the tone.

Lord Rot is a Scottish based one man death metal band whose sound is bleeding into black / thrash metal with all of the flourishes indicative of a full pice outfit. The two songs belonging to this act are not only electrifying but sharp as a rusty knife that is being waved as a threat. This split acts as the first release in a few years following a successful EP all the way back in 2015. This is most likely due to the fact that James Mcbrain is also behind the more renown Hellripper whose 2017 release Coagulating Darkness was the toast of the underworld. The Lord Rot project is similar just with more pulp / slasher flair.

VHS stands for Violent Homicidal Slasher though I feel the band loves the nostalgic acronym as horror movies and Video tapes sort of go hand in severed hand. The VHS side of the split is dedicated to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre with 4 songs and about 5 minutes devoted to Leatherface and chainsaws. If one was looking for irreverence and the sound of tripping while watching horror movies then VHS just might be the insane time you need.

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Mal Du Siècle – Dark Ceremonies Under A Cursed Moon [Spain, Black] (2017)


Self Released | 12-29-17

Aesthetic is important when it coems to releasing metal records and Mal Du Siècle has thrown its lot in with one specific style. If the slightly lo-f production was not the biggrest tip off, then the distressed tape cover that looks right out of a photocopier should be a big indication that it is the cold winter of 1992. The more I look at the cover for Dark Ceremonies Under A Cursed Moon, the more I marvel at all of the ways it leans towards the Norsecore style. I think all of this effort in trying to achieve an aesthetic would be wasted in not for the fact that Mal Du Siècle plays a decent brand of black metal, one fitting of all of this work.

Dark Ceremonies Under A Cursed Moon is listed under raw black metal for Bandcamp yet their production is only cosmetically lo-fi. Aside from a muddy wall that softens the music, the levels in the demo (?) are surprisingly well adjusted. The music on Dark Ceremonies Under A Cursed Moon is fierce and effective and moves beyond just a recreation of Norsecore style black metal. For as much as I talk about working to an aesthetic, Mal Du Siècle excels in black metal without much effort leading me to believe they could do this for many albums. Mal Du Siècle is still a mystery as this is really the only record on Bandcamp aside from an earlier single. there is no personnel info nor any pictures of the band. I am guessing this is a on person act but it could be two. there is no Metal Archives and yet again we are at the end of the year with a mystery demo. Perhaps this is what was intended and for that I can not complain.

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Husk – Fangs [Italy, Black] (2018)


Death Kvlt Productions | 2-5-18

within the deadzone of album releases, there are moments when future records are released almost in their entirety 2 months early. Welcome Husk, a one man black metal project probably from the UK but not entirely sure (Actually Italy). Fangs is limited to 15 copies and is scheduled to release in February of 2018. What you can hear now, however, is almost the entire demo. If it were not for Death Kvlt being a really cool up and coming label, I would have questions about why they were doing it this way.

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


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.

Holokauston – Yersinia Pestis [India, Black] (2017)


Self Released | 11-23-17

“Yersinia pestis (formerly Pasteurella pestis) is a Gram-negative, rod-shaped coccobacillus, non mobile with no spores. It is a facultative anaerobic organism that can infect humans via the oriental rat flea. It causes the disease plague, which takes three main forms: pneumonic, septicemic, and bubonic plagues. All three forms were responsible for a number of high-mortality epidemics throughout human history, including: the 6th century’s Plague of Justinian, the Black Death, which accounted for the death of at least one-third of the European population between 1347 and 1353, and the Third Pandemic, sometimes referred to as the Modern Plague, which began in the late 19th century in China and spread by rats on steamboats claiming close to 10 million lives.”

Aside from the name of this project and some of the original covers with the frontman looking gloomy, this project is pretty alright. I say this know that breaking into nihilistic black metal with a soft spot for bleak history as your theme can be tough given the flooded market. It is true that this project is from India and could possibly make itself distinct given the location. With that said, I feel the strengths of the Yersinia Pestis demo rests in the bands ability to make nihilistic black metal interesting and not stale.

One of the largest strengths for this demo is the mixing as the one man metal template sounds full given the harsh yet manageable DIY production. the vocals from 17 year old Arjun Somvanshimakes this whole project sort of exciting given the young age of its creator as well as the level of quality in its finished project. If one wanted to sttle in for the night with plague ridden black metal, this is a fantastic addition to your night. The extra sound effects and “oriental” flair of songs like “Harvest Of The Departed” makes this a demo that swims in waters with plague rats and laughs while doing it.

Vorus – Chamber of Laments [Romania, Death] (2017)


Self Released | 09-15-17

I do not think I have reviewed many releases from Romania. This does not mean the Country does not have an active metal community and even if it isn’t as flourishing as let’s say the UK or US, I am still open for rotten things to come out of a country known for its vampires. What I wasn’t expecting however is a demo which steps right in line with some of the better death metal of the year. Fantastic job.

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