Resonance -Altari- Kunstquad-Diablation- Blodtar -Carathis- Mallus Spiritus
Altari – Kröflueldar 9/10
An album nine years in the making Altari return with the mind-boggling Kröflueldar an album that is a complete masterwork from beginning to end.
The Icelandic outfit has been unhurried in crafting its follow-up. Kröflueldar ( an event of 9 explosions in nine years) represents the constant threat of ash that they live under yet the clean guitar work and its progression on ‘Grafarþögn’ are uplifting and purely emotive. The harsh vocals are brilliant and capture the mood that is isolated, cold and introspective.
Every track carries a weight and depth that defies the simple notion of experimental black metal. ‘’ Hin eina sanna’’ is Avant Garde in its simplicity to simply just BE, yet on another listen, the hidden guitar parts are evocative and stirring, conjuring the essence of blue Oyster cult and the like with its immediacy and hidden subtleties. Sy?rulu?ður with the vocals of Gyða Margrét is fragile and beautiful. Yet, it cannot escape its true brooding nature as on the excellent ‘’Vítisvilltur’’ and the discordant and time variable subtlety that is ’’Leðurblökufjandinn’’ unpredictable and filled with their unique character using cleaner tones and distortion.
Using clean guitars and rhythms unexplored in the genre Kröflueldar marks a different approach that is radical and yet makes complete sense. An album that is uncompromising and extreme as any other yet is completely different it its ability to be undefinable in its addictive nature and its sheer presence. Epic and unsettling Kröflueldar is a sparse experience to truly behold.
Küntsquäd – Küntsquäd 8.5/10
From the ominous intro that is ‘’Black’’ and its bellow from the depths to the god-almighty crunch that is ‘’Slave’’ Melbourne’s Kuntsquad unleash their debut album of death-blackened punk crust.
Those with delicate sensibilities are gonna hate this record, and that’s perfect. So incredibly tough and uncompromising that you can literally feel the crust falling off the record ( and if you pick it, it won’t heal). The brief havoc and the bass throb that is ‘’Take control “and the 80’s mayhem that “Psych Ward B”. Kuntsquad are gifted with some excellent, memorable riffs from duo Paula Condell and Steve Esler that bite and are incredibly heavy. Punctuated by short sharp songs that never overstay their welcome. Get in, destroy and fuck off to the next track. ‘’Soul Resist “with its anarchy and insight, the mid-tempo attack of ‘’ Xhrist’’ and the highlight ‘’Gods Of War’’ with its marching attack are all perfect examples of their death metal meets crust punk. Its raw, brutal, and earthly. Paula’s vocals are harsh and scathing, the voice of experience of damnation., backed by some of Australia’s most experienced musicians, Kuntsquad comes complete, ‘’Necro Nightmare’’ is simply more Kuntsquad goodness that echoes the like the Sepultura, the grind of the ’80s and some Discharge on the aptly titled ‘’Stomp’’
Gloriously unapologetic, harsh, and perfectly rough, the band with the coolest name ever deliver an ode to the underground, and with their debut album so strong and thorough, this will not be the last you hear of them !
DIABLATION - Par Le Feu 8.5/10
Described a true ode to the Death of humanity, nothing less is than an absolute cataclysm is expected of Frances Diablation. Fortunately Par Le Feu, their second release is a chaotic cacophony of extreme symphonic metal.
Par Le Feu is an supreme record for those with extreme ideals and scant regard for the sensibilities of the majority. With a sound born in the ninety’s roots of black metal, this is a record where everything threatens to teeter over the edge into the abyss. the pure vitriol on this record has the briefest moments of respite. Diablation is an underground collection of worthy individuals with extreme pasts, the duality of vocalists Vicomte Vampyr Arkames (Seth) and Hyde is a marked progression over that of their debut Allégeance and it is now consumed with the credo to be all consuming with their onslaught. Yet this is also symphonic black metal where the arrangements are full of bombast and power, special mention must also go to drummer VNA, Par Le Feu is blessed with an insane amount of speed and his work on’’ Vox Diaboli’’ deserves special mention, where speed and power meet the rousing keyboards. Yet at times it is also utterly primal black metal as on the varied pace assault that is ‘’ Testament de l'humanité’’
The reaping is at hand and with little respite from ominous intro ‘’Inferi Ostium’’ to the pulsing heartbeat that is epic closer ‘’Mort, marche avec moi’’ Diablation are the epitome of extreme symphonic black metal that celebrates the original pioneers whilst also adding their own brand of violent undertones. It is raw powerful and utterly relentless.
Blodtar- Det förtegna förflutna 8.5/10
Following up from their highly regarded debut self-titled EP in 2021, Sweden’s Blodtar un furl ‘’ Det förtegna förflutna’’ is a full-length that realizes the band’s true potential.
Combining extreme black metal with traditional folk is not easy and can come across as disingenuous. Blodtar is authentic in every sense of the word with no clear boundary that merges the two distinct styles into a cohesive, extreme, brittle yet melodious and memorable sound.
‘’ Det förtegna förflutna’’ (‘The secretive and quiet past’) is an album full of intricate, precise riffing and raw frankness that makes it indelibly Black metal with its defining speed and urgency. Filled with tradition, it takes its inspiration from northern folklore, forests, mountains, and mythological beings. The result is an album that, whilst it feels conceptual, every song is a chapter in a well-read book filled with history and richness. The intention is to create unique soundscapes that defy the simple notions of being extreme for the sake of it. The folk-inspired‘’ Den fördärvande sorgbundheten’’ with its icy blackness and speed work, the brief yet uplifting ‘’’ De dansar på berget’’ and its sole guitar piece, ‘’ I avgrundens djup’’ and ‘’ Skymning’’ highlight the band’s ability to conjure images with huge riffs and evocative rhythms, the riffing is inspired and frantic, part traditional folklore and the rich history of extreme metal. It is dark yet also melancholic, introspective yet furious.
Distinct unique, and rich in its unique textures,‘’ Det förtegna förflutna’’ is an album that fulfils weighty expectations and demands total commitment from the listener. It is black metal and traditional capturing the purity of lo-fi with the grandeur of history. Blodtar commands your attention with the savagery and the details. Recommended
Carathis – Amethyst & Moonstone 7.5/10
Hailing from Sweden Carathis (moth) is essentially a one-person project Erech Leleth, augmented by the drumming skills of Palisade on later tracks. Amethyst & Moonstone is not a proper album but the coalescence of two E.Ps 2021’s Amethyst Fortress and The Moonstone Temple that coincides with this digitally.
Carathis walk a very fine line between melody and raw black metal. In places the keyboards are almost vaudevillian and are offset by the harshness of the vocals. At times the later tracks off Moonstone border on a European pop aesthetic with large hooks. It is an album that is a juxtaposition of ideas and a paradoxical destruction of stereotypes. Those expecting a doom masterpiece form the gorgeous album cover are in for a shock.
‘’ The Prayer’’ and ‘’ The Priestess’’ are the synthesis of multiple ideas whilst ‘’ The Crimson Gate’’ sticks to a more structured framework if there is such a thing. The guitars are clear as is the keyboards, yet the rhythm section suffers from a lower end production when it should be at times absolutely bombastic. Reliant on big anthemic styles, upbeat structures and a sense of grandeur the viciousness present on part one (Amethyst) gives way to a more ‘’accessible” and highly polished sensibility that is enshrouded in wickedness and the dark.
Amethyst & Moonstone marks the progression of a project over a scant eighteen months. Surprising, uneven, and downright strange in places. It is professional, upbeat, yet detached and impersonal. It is a release that is best enjoyed with an open mind and for those not reliant on the more predictable tropes of raw black metal or any other genre.
Mallus Spiritus – Vultures of Despair 8/10
Portuguese duo RP Possessed (Vocals) and Jorman Khaos ( Instruments) have unleashed their latest offering, Vultures of Despair, which is true to their uncompromising and chaotic nature, full of rage and disorder.
From its opening incantations and subsequent vitriol, Mallus Spiritus offer black metal of the coldest brittle variety. The programmed percussion is suitably mechanical and harsh. When Mallus Spiritus drop from the blast beats to ta mid-tempo crunch that is all impact, the riffs start to shine, and the mood becomes more ominous, suffocating. And when it’s fast? Insanely so ‘’ The Dead Star of Bethlehem’’ and its solo are simply manic. Special mention must go RP Possessed and his many varied vocal styles. From diabolical screams and incantations to whispered torments, he inhabits the music and gives a chaotic voice. And when he lets rip on the suitably old-school‘’ Spectral Voices from a Chasmic Void,’’ it’s speed metal at its finest. ‘’ To Fail Is to Win’’ combines first-wave black metal with a cold industrial-tinged aesthetic and another insane solo. At Times Vultures of Despair is a recognizable album and contains little surprises. What it does offer is pure chaotic black metal, and it makes no apologies for it. ‘’ Disengage the Parasite’’ and ‘’ Spiritus Decadentia’’ is filled with excellent riffs and pummelling rhythms and more of that excellent vocal madness.
A Pure black metal from its initial onslaught to its conclusion, Vultures of Despair has its share of subtleties, and a hidden atmosphere is strewn across its malevolent darkness. Its musicianship is excellent, and its intent is unadulterated mayhem that is bleak raw and dark. Recommended.