GRYMMSTALT - Anthems of Mournful Despondency 9/10
Created by two of black metal’s underground stalwarts Wampyric Strigoi (WAMPYRIC RITES, DUNGEON STEEL, AURAE LUNAE et. al.) and Lord Valtgryftåke (RÜNDGARD, Pyreficativm, Gryftigæn, 13th Temple, Mánþiel). Grymmstalt is a new project, yet is its tinged with experience and melancholy, a departure from the duo’s previous output. Anthems of Mournful Despondency is a five-track exploration into the realms of a being’s existence including that of pain.
From the opening that is ‘’Seelenangst’’ and continuing with ‘’ Wehmut’’ the journey is a raw steadfast experience and recording of honesty, dejection and inevitability, the atmosphere is thick and tangible, the repetitive phrases create a drone like madness that is at times inescapable. ‘’ Nachsinnen’’ is a true highlight of morose true black metal its coldness is offset by the primal primitive emotions. It is desolate the melody haunted by unbridled savagery and anguish that never falls into the cliches of DSBM, its tempos varied and atmosphere unavoidable, confronting. its freedom lies it its simple truths and its honest primal majesty
Anthems of Mournful Despondency is the spiritual manifestation of man confronting the darkness of his own inner being delivered with a sense of finality, it captures the essence of the second wave of black metal where what appears simple is rich in texture and narrative without ever losing its uncompromising nature.
Ashen- Ritual in Ash 9/10
Following up their auspicious debut Perth’s Ashen have delivered their eagerly awaited follow up, the mighty Ritual in Ash a statement in uncompromising extremity.
Ritual in Ash is not just an excellent at times brilliant death metal record, it is a PURE death metal record! Yet it avoids all the cliches and the homages, it is a monstrous beast of a record that redefines the term brutal and dedication to its musical craft. “Inhuman” with its savage simplicity yet its technical double kick work, “Ritual”’ that combines technical and barbarism and “Threshold” with its clear intent and execution. The production is crisp and clear letting Shannon Over’s riffs hit you with a sense of immediacy and Ben Mazzaro’sl excellent percussion work.
Ritual in Ash is dynamic, exhilarating and hits you a freshness that is devoid of anything except its predatory steadfast nature exemplified by the tortured yet utterly primal and ferocious vocals of Richard Clements. It is a record that is vital and immediate as on the excellent “’’Deadsight,” its onslaught unforgiving and able to run the gauntlet of tempos without ever sacrificing its intentions.
Ashen has delivered 2023 its first pure brutal mindboggling heavy record and it cant be recommended enough.
Crown of Madness - Elemental Binding 9.5/10
The second EP from British Columbia’s Crown of Madness continues their maelstrom of extreme dissonance and death metal and combines it with an immediacy that is vital and energetic.
Tinged in Madness from the lunacy that is “Roots Limbs and Sky “to the sheer power that is ‘’Ä Wrenching Nostalgia’’ Crown of Madness continue to evolve and defy normal extreme metal descriptors, its tempos unhinged and full of urgency the vocal delivery of Sunshine Schneider is varied and passioned and brims with intensity.
Teetering on the edge of the edge of the musical abyss “Vile Sun” and ‘’Immortal Eyes” (and its excellent solo) explore new experimental territories and are unafraid to touch upon unique subject matters. Crown of madness are brilliant in the fact that they are so hard to explain, you have to experience it for yourself. Be prepared Elemental Binding is four tracks of utter musical intensity that takes heaviness to new depths and extremes, it’s exhausting , exhilarating and brilliant in its execution, an experience unlike no other.
NACHTMAER “Van de Mare Bereen” 8.5/10
“Van de Mare Bereen” (“Ridden by the Mære”) is the debut album by Nachtmaer an album of contrasts and shades ethereal yet paradoxical.
From the onset this is an album that takes its roots from the second wave of black metal and traditional black metal. The purity of that movement is a rich source to inspire and combined with the atmospheric elements on the record it creates a new listening experience that is benefitted from massive compositions that are born in the cold darkness.
The atmosphere is authentic the keyboards deliver you to the inevitability of nothingness, helmed by artist Snoodaert Nachtmaer is a collective of artists that bring this creation to life. Inspired by the mythological creature called the Mære and related topics such as dreams and sleep paralysis, the result is an album that plunges you to the depths and then soars into consciousness the incubus and succubus ever present awaiting their feeding, ravenous in their hunger.
At times suffocating and haunting “Van de Mare Bereen’’ is an atmospheric excellently constructed piece of art that is dynamic, yet pure black metal that is diverse and memorable ‘’De Drievoudshart” and ‘’I am the Nightmare’’ are just two examples of the diversity on offer. This is not a single listen experience; multiple listens reap more rewards whether it be a great classic riff missed or an keyboard piece to haunt your dreams. “Van de Mare Bereen” is a textured majestic offering loyal to its subject matter and it musical roots yet are original and diverse. Hopefully this is a prelude of more nightmares to come. Recommended!