Anon- The End of Innocence 9/10
The creation of one-man multi-instrumentalist L from Perth Western Australia is Anon. A project that reflects the resignation of humanity, the hatred of such and its oppressive state. The result is the debut album ‘’The End of Innocence’’.
Anon welcome you to the void with a concept work over six distraught bleak acts. From the subtlety of ‘’I. Absurdity’’ with its clean guitar and ominous cloying presence you are thrown into the abyss that is ‘’II. Despondency’’. A track of profound fury and chaos in the extreme. This is not merely chaotic modern black metal but also melodic, the tremolo creates their own distorted melodies whilst the rhythms are dynamics proven on ‘’III. Insignificance’’. Each track is a lengthy exploration of the human environment, its failures and inevitability. The mid pace gives away to a frenetic urgency that is bought on by the vitriol against its subject matter and its ignorance ‘’IV. Depravity’’ explores this to its zenith against the melody of ‘’V. Naivety” its gullibility lost against an instantly memorable tremolic riff that it thrown against a wall of speed before stepping back into a mid-paced attack that is no less intense. ‘’VI. Futility “’ is the ultimate resignation and the music a reflection of the condition, the high notes making way for a lower end malevolence that is despondent and angry it builds into its crescendo of beautiful despair. L’s Vocals are a deeper more direct vitriol in league with the constant turmoil, restrained at times against the maelstrom that represents the individual condition.
Bleak and unforgiving in its hatred ‘’The End of Innocence’’ creates its own atmosphere that is mesmerizing and trancelike. It is also modern unforgiving and inherently aggressive. This is black metal that is personal, harrowing, and uncompromising. Confronting and melancholic it demands self-exploration against the accepted norms and its impact is immediate. Unmissable.
Black Birch – Black Birch 9/10
The South Sweden duo of Gina Wiklund and Ulf Blomberg represents the individual. The constant struggle against a system that crushes free thought and an alternative to the modern ‘’standard’’. Accepting the circle of life and the collective impact on the ecosystem., EP 2023 is their first release after several singles that began appearing in January 2023
Able to combine the atmosphere with crust and pure black metal fury, Black Birch is a fierce, uncontrollable spirit representing true anger and contempt. It is defiant, unafraid to express reality and intelligently with intensity and passion.
The atmosphere is tangible, claustrophobic, and downright vitriolic across the four-track sequence of “Fallen “, “Death “, “Soil “, and “Birth “. Gina’s vocals and guitar are the one-two violent attack that is bolstered by Ulf’s impressive percussive assault and assistance on the guitar. It is unified and intensely brief from the abyss that is the supremely powerful “Fallen” through to the positivity of ‘’Birth”’ with its softer side against the maelstrom of the proceeding despair and anguish. The secret subtleties of ‘’Death’’ and its mid-paced dynamics are a highlight, ‘’Soil’’ with its barren sparse beginnings, reflect the authenticity and the horror of the real and inevitability.
Black Birch stands accusatory yet self-aware. It is an inflammatory thought inciting release that defies the standard yet revels in its modern sounds, textures, and approach. Despairing yet not without hope. It is deranged, gloriously heavy and wonderfully atmospheric. At times breathtaking, it’s a staggering debut.
Claret Ash – Worldtorn – Anemoia 9/10
It has been more than five since the groundbreaking double album ‘The Great Adjudication’. Australia’s Claret Ash creates so much more than just epic atmospheric, melodic black metal. Their grand concepts of awakening are all interwoven into the ‘’WorldTorn’’ sequence.
Consisting of both new material and reinterpreted work, Anemoia is its own unique journey. There is the excellent re-recording of ‘Ground Dweller’ from the debut album of the same name, mere statistics against a song that continues to evolve with a combination of excellent riffing and its brief interludes that builds towards a huge crescendo. There is a re-interpretation of ‘’The Wolves Have Fed Again’’ from album number two: multiple vocals layers and beautiful acoustic guitars.
‘Cascadence of the Twilight’ is a new song that receives two interpretations. The nearly eight-minute masterwork is all fury, sound, and evolution. Pursuing the limits of black metal against the urgency of the track and James ‘vocals before stepping back from the abyss before hurling headlong into a furious conclusion. The Orchestral version is its polar opposite, stunningly beautiful, able to transport the existing into new dimensions, reeking nostalgia and aching melancholy.
An incredible personal experience recording collapse, resiliency, and symbiosis Claret Ash has created a multidimensional masterwork that is both harrowing and wonderful. Beautifully constructed yet harrowingly dark, it pulses with darkened energy and moments of light, turbulent yet eerily calm. Melodic Black metal is merely the gateway into the Claret Ash experience, seamlessly interweaving the extreme into new territories.
Dusk Cult – Night Sky Revelations 9/10
The Melbourne (Aus) duo of Ben Williamson (Guitars, bass, keys & vocals) and Elliott Sansom (Drums & vocals) return with the second release of Dusk Cult. Night Sky Revelations is more than just another fantastic black metal record l but an experience full of hidden nuances against its raw, confronting Energy.
A natural evolution from their debut it continues their developing synchronicity of melody and unyielding darkness. It is a release full of surprises, such as the organ section through the retro-inspired ‘’Celestial Fury’’, ‘’ Mondaufgang’’ reeks of brimstone and atmosphere. ‘’ Black Cloud Worship’’ with its unrelenting tempo, is continued with the excellent ‘’ Western Embers’’ where the moments of brief acoustic respite are mere markers against the raging chaos and turbulence. The piano on ‘’ Lupercalia’’ is torturous, the denial of the approaching nightmare
The juxtaposition of the heavy low end against the shrieks, howls and cries of the vocals creates and unforgiving intense atmosphere, the melodic moments of clean vocals, guitars and harmony do not lessen the intensity but enrich the experience, with the raw guitar tremolo creating its melodies, sometimes sombre at others all anguish and fury.
Night Sky Revelations combine elements of doom, dissonance and the symphonic into their raw second-wave-inspired yet truly brutal black metal. It is addictive, its energy and spirit creating an enigmatic release that takes recognizable elements and malevolently twists them into something new and, at times, unspeakable. Highly recommended