Skáphe – Skáphe² (2016)

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Author: Arvind

Band: Skáphe

Album: Skáphe²

Genre: Black Metal

Label: Fallen Empire

Skáphe inhabits a strange sonic space. Their sound manifests as a sort of abyssic yawp, a fading bellow, traces of which can be heard reverberating through atonal frequencies and drawn-out atmospherics. Yet for all the atonality, there’s a strange order to the music, as if each note and chord was placed with deliberate intent. This is almost entirely due to the work of mastermind and guitarist AP, whose riffs spiral ever downward, hanging in the purgatory between distortion and dissonance as vocalist DG howls incantations into the whirlwind. Within the gloom, warped grooves make their way in and out of prominence – halfway through “III”, the cavernous production pulls away slightly to reveal a driving kick drum while AP’s guitar slowly bends itself out of shape. The end result is esoteric, but also captivating, as the strange frequencies grasp at the ears and refuse to let go. Continue reading

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A Pregnant Light – All Saints Day (2015)

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Author: Arvind

Band: A Pregnant Light

Album: All Saints Day

Label: Colloquial Sound Recordings

Damian Master, the troubled mastermind behind A Pregnant Light, once told me that “pure black metal must have riffs” (http://kwur.com/five-songs-to-listen-to-curated-by-damian-master-of-a-pregnant-light/). It’s an epithet shared by many, a simple idea in principle that nonetheless provides a stark guideline for how to gauge and interact with this genre of music. It’s rather fitting, then, that A Pregnant Light, Master’s long-running project, straddles the line between blown-out atmospheric black metal, charging post-punk, and straightforward heartache. Continue reading

Vastum – Hole Below (2015)

Author: Arvind

Band: Vastum

Album: Hole Below

Label: 20 Buck Spin

“Sodomitic Malevolence”, the opening track of Vastum’s latest album Hole Below opens with spacious whispers and far-off intonations. This initiates a downward spiral into the grimy bowels of death metal, with Vastum leading the way into a squelching mass of oozing darkness. “Sodomitic Malevolence” sets the tone for the rest of Hole Below as an exploration of the uncomfortable, the nauseating, and the disgusting. Continue reading

Ævangelist – Enthrall to the Void of Bliss (2015)

Author: Arvind

Band: Ævangelist

Album: Enthrall to the Void of Bliss

Label: 20 Buck Spin

The first semblance of organized structure on Aevangelist’s latest offering, “Enthrall to the Void of Bliss”, comes nearly 8 minutes into the opening track. Up until then, “Arcanae Manifestia” plods along, a sprawling mass of creaking industrial sounds, buried cymbals, and swirling chaos. It’s impressive just how many disparate sounds Aevangelist are able to cram into their sonic space. For every solid death metal chug, there are industrial scrapes, vocal wrenches, angular riffs, and even a church bell or two. As you might imagine, there’s a lot going on here. Consequently, “Enthrall to the Void of Bliss” comes across as a messy, chaotic affair, but it’s clear that chaos is exactly what they were going for. Continue reading

Shroud of the Heretic – Unorthodox Equilibrium (2015)

Author: Arvind

Band: Shroud of the Heretic

Album: Unorthodox Equilibrium

Label: Iron Bonehead

One of the chief criticisms of cavernous, subterranean death metal is that it tends to blur into walls of aimless sound. There’s a tendency among bands of this oeuvre to assume that a lack of interesting song structure can be masked with noise, murky production, or ambience. I’m happy to say that Shroud of the Heretic navigate around these pitfalls excellently, and create an abyssic death metal record that pull no punches while still making room for a few touches of ritualistic mysticism. Shroud of the Heretic’s last effort, Revelations in Alchemy was a less patient affair, though no less full of swirling blastbeats and cavernous production. Continue reading

Shrine of Insanabilis – Disciples of the Void (2015)

Author: Arvind

Band: Shrine of Insanabilis

Album: Disciples of the Void

Label: World Terror Committee

Shrine of Insanabilis waste no time in getting right to the point. This is an album about the occult, the gnostic, the unholy, and the void. By no means are these topics novel, but Shrine of Insanabilis possess an admirable sincerity in their sound that makes Disciples of the Void stand out a bit from the pack. This sincerity, along with a middle-eastern inflected musical timbre and some great riffage make for a surprising fun, if not particularly compelling listen. It’s the same feeling I get with bands like Melechesh (to who Shrine of Insanabilis owe at least a little bit). Continue reading

Mgła – Exercises in Futility (2015)

Author: Arvind

Band: Mgła

Album: Exercises in Futility

Label: No Solace

The best black metal hurts. It calls to those feelings inside of us that we cannot fully express or understand – the more unsavory aspects of human character, the darker impulses and emotions that lay beneath the surface. Oftentimes, these feelings are convoluted and confusing. How do we make sense of these aspects of our collective personality? For some, the answer lies in worship, for others it lies in community outlets. For me, the answer lies in black metal. Continue reading