Arde – Ancestral Cult 9/10
Berlins Arde have taken the term of Dense Black metal and built upon it. they have created an album of organic heaviness that revolves around the central concept of ancient cults and goddesses.
The struggle of women over time is represented by an album that oozes atmosphere and a penchant for creating utterly heavy music. Sile is the only calm amongst the raging storm a haunting 90 second interlude that features the ethereal talents of Cinder Well before album highlight The Birch that pulses with waves of sonic punishment that writhe with purpose and intent. Although the average track is over 7 minutes not a moment is wasted with Kato’s vocals being the focal point for rage and frustration.
Performed with great passion and great touches of melody it is an album that is fierce in its integrity and vision. Vesica Piscis and Halls Of Ostara are more stunners on a record that is enjoyed as a whole. Honest and all-encompassing Ancestral Cult seamlessly merges the serene with the chaos the blast beats and riff after huger riff engulf you with purpose and intent. Arde provide musically and lyrically something much more than just Atmospheric Black Metal. Unmissable.
Doodswens “Lichtvrees” 9.5/10
Emerging from Eindhoven, Netherlands female black metal duo Doodswens unveil their debut album Lichtvrees.
Lichtvrees is the fear of light and Doodswens embrace the shadows with their negative waves of energy that encompass you slowly building to a crescendo that is as inevitable as it is enticing.
Described as old school black metal vocalist/guitarist Fraukje van Burg and drummer Inge van der Zon possess a maturity and depth that is as honest as it is uncompromising. the anguish of ‘’Zwarte Staar” is palpable, the emotion and pain visceral and honest. Doodswens revel in releasing their darkness slowly omnipresent in its delivery. ‘’Het Zwartewaterland’’ traverses between speed and tension never releasing you, giving you no respite.
A very personal release that embraces human corruption, Doodswens excel at surpassing the simple guitar drums approach and create a realm that is real, tangible, and painful. ’’In Mijn Bloed’’ ( In the Blood) is literally that, an affliction they cannot release, only through music, you can feel them flailing in the earth, covered in mud seeking release. ‘’IJsheiligen’’ is as terrifying as it is haunting . this is underground Black metal at its finest, most perverse, and utterly unrelenting.
Enthralling, powerful and expressive in its disgust and depression ‘’Lichtvrees’’ wildly embraces its raw aesthetic and makes it its own. For the purist and those of the darkest and blackest of hearts. Brilliant
Earthwomb- Becoming Immanence 9/10
This is the debut release from three Piece Earthwomb from Lima Peru, and it is a soul-searching project that is of enormous depth and organic music. Shattering the conceptions that make up our daily and historical existence.
“’The Gathering” is a deadset legend of a song. The atmosphere created simply by tremolo picking combining it with military-esque determination, neck cracking speed, intensity and the sheer conviction of it all. The vocals are the projection of the musical soul and Earthwomb convey it beautifully. Savagely.
The wall of sound created on the epic instrumental ‘’Trespassing the Paragons of Consciousness” is a glorious 6-minute adventure that takes elements of post metal, black metal, distortion and combines it with touches of melody, harmony and excellent musician ship that is confident, fearless and not afraid of experimentation.
An EP that has the cohesion of an album, it uses the primal source of nature as inspiration and to analyse other deeply personal topics to traverse a musical journey of incredible power and maturity. It is hard to compare Earthwomb to others as they uniquely take some familiar elements and twist them, mutate them and as on “Walkscapes” create a wholly moving experience. “Fractal Phenomenon” is simply heavy post/Black metal excellence.
Becoming Immanence is the beginning of something truly special.
Lhaad- Below 8.5/10
Claustrophobic intense and richly dense. Below is an album in six parts from Lhaad or more importantly the ever-creative musician that is Lykormas. This is a cold, dark, almost ambient in places album that serves as an ode to the Hadal Zone, the deepest regions of the oceans. There is no light there and Below musically reflects that. A cold punishing album of no respite, claustrophobic and intense with drowning like momentum
The industrial elements are ever present in the background but do not overshadow the music on offer Below VI delivers this perfectly. Cold clear precise Black metal with its many layers and textures driven by a cold harsh rhythmic pattern. The technology is ever-present, bubbling up between the guitars disorientating, keeping you off balance, never comfortable with the ebb and flow of the album, it rages and crushes with silence and tones, effects laden vocals along with big precise riffs.
As unconventional as extreme music gets, Lhaad deliver music that is wildly electronic in places (Below V) and fiercely extreme in Black Metal (Below IV) in others. Below is an album that is surprising as it is dense and bleak. the musical darkness all consuming from which there is no escape.
Sapienta Diaboli - Black is the messenger. Black is the destiny. 8/10
Emerging from the depths and the ocean of darkness Sapienta Diaboli excel in the furious raw black metal that is full of anger and hate. A one man project it is not just all anger and fury . There are touches of melody and synth to add texture and depth to a vicious recording that is all about impact rather than aesthetics. "Burn Without Ceasing" and "Revel in Chaos" deliver the chaos that the Formless artist excels in. this is an album that bases itself around blistering speed, although ‘’Blighted’’ brings the horror with dissonant synth work that coalesces the shapes in the shadows , and ‘Bow Before Him and Bathe in His Glory” is a aural attack of no respite.
Short sharp and powerful ‘’Black is the messenger. Black is the destiny.’’ Delivers a glorious lo fi message of vitriol and visceral despair. It is anguished bleak and full of intent.
Anomalie Tranceformation 8/10
Introspective, hauntingly dreamlike yet uncompromising, Anomalie have created a complete masterwork that is a journey through some epic sorrowful moments that are as uplifting as they are heavy.
There are six individual trances on the journey here to take you to another musical realm, Highlight ‘Trance V: Cerulean Sun’ features guest vocals Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ) and the haunting violin of Sara Wolske, whilst ‘’Trance II: Relics’’ is the most metal and has an appearance by Nornagest (Enthroned). These are companions on the almost shaman like journey of multi-instrumentalist Marrok and drummer Lukas Schlintl as you traverse the progression from folk elements to the heavy, rooted in nature as it begins on ‘’Trance I: The Tree’’ and carries “The weight of the Past”.
The many voices reach its peak on ‘’Trance IV: Nemesis” whilst ‘’Trance II: Alive’’ confirms the musical growth from the acoustic to black metal as the revelation is revealed
Musically exciting and yet hypnotic at times the flow of Tranceformation is as natural as it is progressive. It doesn’t rely on any fancy tricks, but an intensely introspective outlook made public as the sun casts it light upon it. Heavy on the atmosphere it creates an extra dimension, the wooden instruments adding to the authenticity. An album enjoyed as a whole and worth revisiting. The more listens the more one discovers