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Resonance - Tribunal - Witte Wieven - MoonThoth - A Diadem of Dead Stars -Ossaert - Hamvak

Tribunal – The Weight Of Remembrance 9.5/10

Canada’s Tribunal is the work of duo Etienne Flinn (Vocals/Guitar) and Soren Mourne (Cello, Bass, Vocals) and their debut, The Weight Of Remembrance, is not so much an album but an experience of crushing heaviness that to simply call it doom is a mistake.

To take all the elements of traditional heavy metal, doom and gothic and add to it the classic intonations of Soren Mourne, you have an album that is as uncompromising as it is beautiful. As heavy as it is passionate, it is elegant and wonderfully made. It is an album that is part velvet, part blunt instrument.

The gravitas is real and tangible, the sense of powers so gargantuan you feel like you can reach out and grab it, or let it consume you. From the opening moment of “Initiation” the duality of both the harsh and serene, the light and the dark and their never-ending quest for dominance. Yet ‘’ “Of Creeping Moss and Crumbling Stone” is even more monumental and extravagant. The riffs are so heavy, but the album is not without a little bit of pace, “A World Beyond Shadow.” With its double kicks and haunting piano. The album is so brilliantly executed its hard to believe it’s a debut. So cohesive is its poetry and vision that one listens to “The Path.” It will assuage any fears that the genre has a new heavyweight.

Conjuring the epic scope of the Peaceville three without ever being derivative, Tribunal expands upon the original doom and gothic sensibilities to create a truly unique and haunting piece of art. The Weight Of Remembrance is an experience of sorrow and loss that leaves an indelible mark upon the soul and is simply unforgettable.

Witte Wieven – Dwaallicht 9.5/10

Witte Wieven (spirits of wise women) unveils their third release Dwaallicht ( stray light), their first full-length that continues their evolution into a formidable musical entity unafraid of experimentation and open organic development of their music.

The duo of Carmen (Vocals, Bass, Guitars, Samples) and Sarban (Drums, Samples) from Tilburg experiment with music in all its forms and let the emotion of the song dictate its direction. ‘’ Het mistige zicht’’ with its evolution is vast and expansive. When the atmosphere is given a more straightforward approach as on the turmoil that is ‘’Kringen,’’ (circles) the black metal influences are allowed to shine through yet it is always atmospheric, dense, encapsulating and mesmerizing in its fearlessness to plunge into darkness and yet reach for the light.

From the pulsing rhythm and building tension that combines the ethereal vocals of Carmen and the earthen guitar riff that is ‘’Drogbeeld,’’ Witte Wieven have created another moment of utter excellent post-rock atmospheric music that takes its heart in the extreme and merges it with melody to create its own dynamic vision. Every second is crucially delivered with urgency yet intangible. The more one reaches for it, the further away it becomes as it simultaneously enshrouds you with its beauty and its darkness. An album that is completed by the live rendition of ‘’Met beide benen in het niets’’.

Exciting, vital, hypnotic and spellbinding. Dwaallicht is an album that lingers in the soul and conjures infinite possibilities, able to create the darkest emotions and the sumptuousness of atmospheres. It is elegant brutal, and utterly captivating.

MoonThoth – Uroczysko 9/10

Polish one-man Black Metal project led by Nocturnal, MoonThoth (the lunar deity Thot/Thoth) follows up his debut offering 2020s ‘’ Zmora’’ with the rich atmospheric offering that is ‘’ Uroczysko’’ a particular part of the forest bound by legends or a legendary event.

Captivating, dark and all-consuming, the mystery of MoonThoth lies in the presentation of their music. It is extreme pure black metal on hand, yet on the other is genuine and heartfelt, delivered in his native language. There is clarity and a sense of vision of impermeable darkness using demonology and Slavic mythology throughout. The guest vocals and guitar work are intrinsic, especially on the truly haunting closer ‘’Chram Chorsa’’that elevates something extraordinary. ‘’ Brzask odmętem zgaszony’’ (the time of the dim light) with its unsettling mid pace and the simply extreme/symphonic ‘’Żalnik’’ (Burial place) with its huge monolithic riffs and purity. It is an album that improves greatly as you undertake its journey, yet its themes are delivered without compromise or consideration for those with less understanding. The production is simple and unhurried, allowing the music to be felt in its purest form as on ‘’ Wołchwowe widziadła’’and ‘’ Popielnik.’’

Something is alluring and hypnotic to MoonThoths music that is captivating and demands repeated listening. Is it the rhythms that ensnarl you or the moments of beauty, such as the strings over the extreme, that make it complete rather than a distraction? MoonThoth has an unexplainable element that is haunting yet also incredibly earthen. Real. This undefinable quality elevates Uroczysko from a great album to an excellent one.

A Diadem of Dead Stars – Emerald Sunsets 8.5/10

Emerald Sunsets is not the eagerly awaited new album from the Greek individual who specializes in an ambient, atmospheric style that is also steeped in the traditions and epic scope of Black Metal. Rather it is the physical release of tracks taken from Of Green Pastures…, The Light That Burns demo and The Furrow of Woes digital only releases.

At only four tracks, it is a glimpse into the multi-layered style that is A Diadem of Dead Stars, the raw guitar and multiple movements conjure another notable one-man project where the concept is paramount, and the emotion is a tangible facet of the musical creation. Known as The Pilgrim, the work is epic in scope with large guitar parts that are equally matched by sweeping passages that allow the music to linger like morning fog upon the fields that is thematically linked to the gorgeous cover art.

The grandeur of “The Furrow of Woes” is intrinsically linked to the overall themes, its distorted moments are offset by soothing yet dark-filled passages. It is Neofolk at times yet also assured in its more black metal traditions as the riff to “As swallows Flew Away From This Land’’ stands proud on its own. It is a unique vision that sometimes requires a larger canvas, yet its authenticity is beyond doubt.

Immersive melancholia Emerald Sunsets is at times beautiful and poignant with 19th century poetry. The coda of ‘The light that Burns’ and the entirety of “Of Green pastures” is simply beautiful with their choral vocals. It is immersive and tranquil yet also rousing and tinged with sorrow. Complex, earthen and primal, this is music delivered with passion and honesty. A Diadem of Dead Stars is alluring and addictive.

Ossaert – Offerdier 8/10

Emerging from the Dutch underground with their own darkened voice are Ossaert. Offerdier is their first Ep after two full-lengths that further pursue the anonymous duo’s wraith and the liberation of the soul.

‘’ de lichtkrans en de waan’’ ( the halo and the delusion) is a true beast of black metal that takes origins in the second wave of the nineties blackened fury and distorts it no into a malevolent creation of utter vitriol in the orthodoxy that threatens the potential of man. There are moments of clean singing, and it is 7.53 minutes of blasphemy that is restlessly tormented and driven by purpose and, without doubt, their best piece of work to date.

The EP is broken up with Ritueel I and Ritueel II, two dark, ominous instrumental pieces that take their formation in Dungeon synth origins yet are original in their own textures and foreboding atmosphere and further proof that the band is without creative limits. Closer ‘’ Het Geschenk en het Bestaan (The gift and existence) is more traditional Ossaert, which is furious riffing, driving rhythms piercing wails and music that delights in the turmoil, offers the fruit of truth and revels in liberation.

Offerdier is an all too brief continuation of Ossaert’s intense ruthless music that is utterly uncompromising and mayhem in destroying indoctrinated institutions.

Hamvak – Maelstrom Of Abhorrent Incantations 8/10

Germany’s Hamvak is the result of one man and his aggression. Where as some solo projects seem underdone, Maelstrom Of Abhorrent Incantations is a full-length offering completely formed in all its vitriol and discontent.

They are taking a truly unearthly guitar tone and combining it with a hyperkinetic rhythm style with audible bass. The opener‘’ Arrows Of Vengeance’’ sets the pace and intent with multiple time changes that are frenetic and firmly rooted in a more extreme death metal style that sometimes touches upon grind. The atmospheric elements of Solus are gone as Hamvak evolves (devolves) into a more earthen, darkened, openly antagonistic maelstrom of energy.

Excellently executed and multi-layered ‘’ Savage Blasphemous Incantation’’ is all about the attack with that almost clangy rhythm section driving the madness. The riffs are furious yet, at times, dissonant, and the vocals are definitely from the school of extreme old-school death metal where guttural hostility is paramount. ’’Storming Abhorrent Forces’’ is more fury. Yet, the closer and the truly chaotic/epic ‘’ The Glorious Return Of Death’’ mixes up the tempos and the rhythms to create a vortex of unescapable inevitability. Pure speed metal and thrash are also thrown into the assault, which is surprising yet audible considering the cavernous the quality of the recording.

Fusing the energy of both black and death metal into something that demands attention and no compromises, multi-instrumentalist ‘’D” has created something special that defies normal conventions. Focused, unrelenting and dense Maelstrom Of Abhorrent Incantations is an album for pure extreme souls and that is simply excellent and totally unforgiving.

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