Thursday, September 16, 2021

Serpent Of The Abyss — Wrapped in Darkness

 Spawning from the underground Serpent of The Abyss is a band that came out of no where releasing their album Wrapped in Darkness a wicked, raw, and very atmospheric, this album has very unique qualities with creative guitar riffs that seem almost medieval at times while still sounding incredibly raw and abrasive. While there's only three tracks they're all rather long, though there's no sense of repetitive nonsense that drags on for too long.

I was incredibly impressed by the amount of creativity was put into this album, the guitars blend together with dissonant harmonics that warp the mind and put one into a trance, while still keeping a melodic presence buried beneath the chaotic haze of the guitars. The drums are a standard blast beat all the way through for the most part, there are times where it slows down, or changes up and hits a crash or a high hat every now and then, but it changes just as much as the guitar changes all through out. They blend so well together thanks to the raw production style, it adds to the mysterious nature of the album as well.

The vocals, while sparse, are ghastly and harsh, spitting out unknown curses into the abyss with added echo effect, it really drives in the atmosphere and lies perfectly with the mixing of the album. Each instrument is properly heard, its a weird thing while its crisp and clean, its still chaotic and crazy with the distortion. Its rather beautiful really, and highly captivating. A nice touch as well to add home the hazy atmosphere is that berried beneath the harsh guitars are underlying synths that really add a vibrant and somber touch to the tracks and is a great support for the guitars.

Its just simply hypnotic how the album blends so well together. The instrumentation is just so well put together it really draws you in more and more, especially on the second track I feel. Sword of Hate and Glory is the second longest track on the album as well, and it really progresses in a very dissonant way that almost seems suffocating and intense, but morbidly beautiful. It just kept drawing you in deeper into the dark and built the atmosphere so well.

When I heard it the first time I immediately played it again, I was very much blown away with what I heard, its a very distinct sound among the raw atmospheric black metal type acts out there. Its a creative turn thanks to the beautiful song writing. The fusion of atmosphere and song writing is executed perfectly and it really makes me hope that this act releases more material. But at the same time I can appreciate the uniqueness of having this one singular album as a standalone piece of work. I highly recommend giving this one a listen.

Feretral – The temple ov Feretral

 Hailing form the Brazilian underground Feretral pulls their latest release from the sewers of hell The Temple Ov Feretral. This is a thrashy, black metal album with some death metal elements thrown in for good measure. Its raw, gritty, and filled with plenty of headbangable moments. There's a lot of tracks off this album, seventeen of them, but it doesn't get tiring listening to them as each of the songs are rather different from one another, yet keeping to that original septic concept.

After the long gloomy intro, it kicks into an almost Blasphemy-esque thrash song. Jumpy blast beats, hellish vocals, and screeching guitar riffs, it really draws on the old school style black metal acts. I've found my self really drawn to this sound, it keeps it raw and rather authentic thanks to the muddy production style. It sounds rough and rather chaotic at first, but it really helps again with the entire atmosphere this album has.

But this album is not all atmosphere, there are some wicked riffs and solos that are really killer. From slower doomier riffs to lightning fast thrash riffs to a more standard black metal style, there's plenty of variety through out the album and it really keeps you engaged. Besides the guitars, the vocals are some of my favorite that I've heard in a long time. Its bestial and demonic, bringing me back to Blasphemy as I mentioned before. The added effects to the vocals also help add to the twisted and hellish atmosphere. He barks out lyrics regarding destroying society, demons, Satan, and your usual black metal contents but it fits even despite its cliché contents.

There are some really fun tracks on here, my personal favorite is the sixth track Sewer metal. Its a hard hitting black thrash metal track with catchy lyrics, killer drums, and an infectious riff that gets stuck in your head. Its just a fun song all around, chanting 'Sewer Metal!' along with the chorus is just infectious. It only runs for a little bit over two minutes, but it doesn't feel too short. It hits the sweet spot of being not to short and not to long, and that goes for the whole album. There are some tracks, like the one that follows The Masque of Red Death is a six and a half minute doom metal slog that, again,  doesn't feel like it over stays its welcome. 

There are also two covers on this album one of Darkthrone and Sepultura. The Darkthrone cover of their song Transilvanian Hunger a black metal classic and done performed perfectly and thanks to the production, it has an almost thrashier feel to it. Its not as cold as the original but done really well. Same with the Sepultura cover, its a classic song they cover The Curse and again, its an almost perfect cover done with plenty of respect. The whole album, besides the covers, are all performed very well. These guys are skilled at what they do and have plenty of passion. They've for sure gained a new fan out of me.


Alghol – The Osseous Key

Hailing from Portland, Maine, the one man band Alghol presents us with his first offering, The Osseous Key a leap forward coming off of the back of his previous demo release Forgotten Paths. This debut album is very much in vein of the 90s style black metal, filled with raw melodic riffs, mystical synths, and an unforgiving attitude. A perfect mix of grim atmosphere and crushing riffs.

Right out the gate this album doesn't take any prisoners. The drums are fast paced blast beats with a nice strong tone but not too over powering. The guitar riffs are gnarly, cold, and electrifying, they're rather catchy as well, with a nice melodic groove that brings me back to bands like Burzum, Mayhem, Darkthrone, all of the classics really, but there's an obvious modern bent to it that is rather refreshing. Its not just another love letter to the past, but a look forward for black metal while still keeping it to its roots. Simplicity and minimalism is what makes black metal great in my opinion, and this album does that and still manages to sound full and very vibrant. The very melodic song writing helps as well, keeping it very entertaining. Each song can easily stand on its own.

The subtle keys all through out the album accompanying the riffs really helps along the atmosphere, keeping it mysterious and having a mystical and dark fantasy feel to it all. That's very prominent I feel on the title track for the album, the riffs are almost medieval and along side the keyboards you can't help but picture dark castles and hidden demons that lie within. What helps as well is the production, while not as raw and rugged as the demo release, this one is still rather intense. The guitars shriek with every riff and really takes over the whole song. The vocals also have echo effects on some of the songs, enhancing the rather mysterious vibe the whole album has.

There are some rather very clever drum fills that I think help separate its self from the droning blast beats. While, there are plenty of those, and they're very impressive and intense to listen to, the rather slower and melodic parts shine the most, and I think is the albums strongest suit. One of my favorite tracks is the fourth track, Tireless Procession. The drumming on that track is probably my favorite, it matches the pace of the guitar riff and makes for an almost militant sound to it all, adding to the grim nature of the album I think. What's great is that it changes up through out, with the double bass punishing all those who appose it towards the end.

This is a very well put together album and you can tell a lot of care and effort went into this release. It really gets me excited to hear what else can come from this man, because the potential to grow is very apparent in the music. This is just a very solid all around black metal album that I very much enjoyed and had a lot of fun listening too. Any fan of metal should check this album out with out hesitation.


Thursday, September 9, 2021

VØLUS - Festering Anti​-​Cosmic Wound


Vølus is a one man blackened death metal act hailing from South Carolina. The sole member, Justin Vølus, presents us with this first unholy offering titled Festering Anti-Cosmic Wound a torturous and gnarly twenty-seven minutes. Somewhere in between Portal's Lovecraftian themes and Cattle Decapitation's more grindier tendencies, its a very brutal and oppressive mixture of both the black and death metal genres and is executed rather creatively.

The guitars and bass are everywhere, the riffs are wailing fast and deep, the bass is simply crushing it along side the guitars. The wild mixtures of the two reminds me very much of Portal's more spastic and rather angular sounding guitar riffs that are tuned way down, really pushing in that heavy feeling of dread. Providing the drums is Jared Cave Moran sitting in for this session. And he nails it as well, incredibly fast and on point, the performance is other worldly and at times feels like he's improvising much of it. It helps add to the chaotic and suffocating atmosphere the album builds.

Now, let me get started on the vocals. Justin completely kills it, mimicking what could be that of some anti-cosmic demon. Deep and guttural it sounds rather disgusting at some points (in a good way). The lyrics are rather dark as well, imagery of the occult, madness, and hordes of angelic corruption, are just some of the twisted topics this release touches upon. I also find it fitting as to how they're delivered in an almost spoken word style, it helps with the almost anti-melodic nature of this release.

Its a rather abrupt album I feel. It starts rather suddenly with constantly changing riffs and drum fills that make it seem very angular and anxious. I feel like it borders on the experimental and takes more influence from things on the outside of black/death metal. Dipping its toes into more noisy and even like a weird, twisted, heavy version of improvised jazz thanks to the drumming style. Either way this was a really fascinating album I thought and enjoyed my time with it. Though, I think its best suited for those already comfortable and familiar with crazier styles of metal.


गौतम बुद्ध - पुनर्जन्म भाग १

 Its not often I hear of bands coming from the east, Kushinagar, India in particular, which is rather fascinating seeing as how that is a rather popular pilgrimage site for Buddhists. So when I saw this band cross my feed I was highly interested, the blood red cover featuring a statue of Buddha on it as well seemed to peak my interest as well. After all the band name does translate to Gautam Buddha in English, named after the Buddha him self. The song writing reflects the spiritual nature of the band I feel, despite its raw and lo-fi nature.

The production is very raw and stripped back, the guitars have a light yet crunchy sound to them that are layered over with plenty of raw distortion on them. The drums are also incredibly up front and makes its presence known with a very solid sounding snare that drives the beat along in many of the blast beat sections. The guitar writing seems to be the main focus surrounding the music, creative riffs strummed tremolo styled to a more casual strumming and even a clean and slow guitar riff on the second track that brings me back to Forgotten Woods perhaps an homage to the band. There are only four tracks on this album, each of them well over nine minutes, but you'd be surprised to find that none of these songs get repetitive at all, thanks to the fantastic song writing and interesting production style that really keeps me captivated.

The album its self is a meditation on death and reincarnation. The translation of the album into English is simply 'Reincarnation part 1'. Each track touches upon the reasons behind a soul reincarnating on this realm of existence. While, the vocals them selves are obscured by harsh reverb and are screeched out in your typical black metal fashion, I could only imagine what the lyrical contents are since each of the song titles are different phrases in Hindi relating to the very nature of rebirth. All beings must go through this cycle. Even those who are with the divine now will be pulled down again to relive life on this Earth for better or for worse. Its a topic that's never touched upon within black metal, but its weirdly fitting, as with the melancholic and oppressive atmosphere this album builds, maybe this cycle isn't something one should look forward to.

I've found my self very much drawn to this album. From the spiritual themes, to the style of production, it all really captures what I love about this style of black metal. I can see this putting off those who are more used to black metal of the 'Trve' and 'Kvlt' variety, seeing as how many of the guitar riffs I've found to be rather pretty and ethereal, capturing the very metaphysical ideas this album had to share. Give this album a shot even if you're not that much into black metal its self, its a very interesting perspective of Buddhism one doesn't see very often. Highly recommend.


Canid - Saint Serpentine

 Crawling forth from the US underground scene Canid presents us with their third release after a four year hiatus titled Saint Serpentine. This is a cryptic, obscured and raw sounding black metal album that approaches you in a slow almost doom like pace. When looking back on the duo's previous releases, it keeps many of the same lo-fi and raw themes of misanthropy. Thick swirling synths that add layers of textures aren't as present on their latest release here, but its still very much there and one of the things I've found very alluring about this act. They also decided to slow down the pace, which is quite refreshing.

The riffs are thick and repetitive, getting into the doom metal aspects first. The riffs swirl round and round with the shuffling drum beat, which is my personal favorite. The drums on this album are almost hypnotic with how they're played. It really compliments the guitar riffs, which are layered on top of one another creating a very thick and noisy haze that makes the listener pay closer attention to it, at least in my opinion, to pick out what's being played here. For the most part, its a rather laid back album with very noisy tendencies. There are moments where it picks up pace and really sounds punishing, especially on the first track, about a quarter of the way towards the end, the double bass drums kick in and create a very driving and memorable force on the album. It doesn't happen much else through out the album, but its a nice touch compared to the rather psychedelic and rather hypnotic the riffs are.

There are some great and creative use of guitar feed back on this album, the third track Antediluvian Filth Eternal is a great example of such, the guitar riff starts and stops, and lets out electric shrills that'd wake the dead. It really helps captures a sense of chaotic and angry atmosphere and builds for a very memorable moment as well off the album.

The slower pace of these tracks I think help the album feel much longer than it actually is. Running for only thirty-four minutes, each track feels like a massive accomplishment after listening and almost requires a break due to the repetitive and sometimes hypnotic aspects of the songs, it honestly put me to sleep. Not saying that's a bad thing by any means, it has a way of absorbing you and really immersing you in its misanthropic nature. And even with saying that, there are still plenty of interesting and memorable moments, specifically the transitions in the songs them sells, switching from one riff to another tend to be done in a rather flashy and creative way.

I'd say give this album a shot if you enjoy your black metal to be slow. Just as slow as doom metal really. I found this album to be very entertaining and enjoyed my experience with it. Seems only right I tell others to as well.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Lotus of Darkness - Sompas-Naga

 Hailing from the eastern underground Lotus of Darkness is the only black metal band I am aware of hailing from Thailand of all places. Their cultural roots show within their second release, Sompas-Naga, a mournful album deep in the black metal tradition. Though their folk roots flare, with eastern style guitars that are present all through out. It is quite the exotic album.

The songs are harsh, cold, and grim, very much in style of many of the old school European black metal bands reminding me somewhat of the many French style black metal bands that tend to stick to the more raw and stripped back approach even to the riffs. The guitars here have an almost skeletal sound to them, but many of the songs are incredibly melodic, having deep Asian influences as well. Its a surprising mix that is rather refreshing to hear. As well as the many Hindu and Buddhist themes presented all through out. The vocals are just as good as the guitars as well, harsh and visceral the high pitched screeches like that of a nāga its self.

The songs are rather lengthy, none of them even being under six minutes, but whats nice is that thanks to the creative influences the repetitive riffs don't really get as boring. It helps that the song structure is diverse and the drums aren't a consistent blast beat all through out. There are time changes and the pace can either be slow and thoughtful to aggressive and fast. The range of style these guys have is quite impressive. The third track To the River of Wishes is an acoustic folk. Its a breath taking piece that breaks up the harsh tone the rest of the album presents. The following track Sompas-Naga, though, jumps right back into the blast beats and melodic tremolo riffs, quite a jarring transition, but it works very well.

Its not often you hear about a black metal band coming from Asia, and its always surprising when you do. Its refreshing hearing their own cultural interpretations of something so raw and ambiguous and this album and band is a fine example of just that. Bringing the raw hatred of black metal and mixing it with their own cultures much like the Scandinavians did with theirs is a nice touch and creates for some stunning work. I personally found this album to be extremely enjoyable from front to back, and a great foray into Eastern black metal which will be something I know I will be looking into in the future.