Wode, Burn In Many Mirrors (20 Buck Spin 2021)

The third album from England’s Wode is a sinister voyage through eldritch knowledge and understanding revived for the twenty-first century.

Wode has been around for a decade, releasing their first full-length album in 2016 and its well-received follow-up, Servants of the Countercosmos, the next year. The music is Black Metal thematically, with a significant nod toward paganism. The musical style has a lot in common with old school metal, with discernable harmonies and progressive riffs contained in a song structure that can support stadium performance.

The new album has six tracks, all of the them solidly plotted and expertly delivered. The vocals are realized largely in a clear, brusk tone, and the noticeable but sparing use of keys and synths complement the straight-forward musicality.

It all starts with “Lunar Madness,” which sounds like an army marching into battle at the beginning. Episodes of chaos punctuate the narrative and the rolling rhythm. “Fire In The Hills” is ominous and filled with dread while “Sulphuric Glow” is more straight-up sinister and pushes the Black Metal buttons hard. “Vanish Beneath” is the track I remember most for its insistent pace especially and for the recurring rambling motif.

The anchor to the album is the nine minute suite, “Streams of Rapture.” It plays like a dark and mysterious mini-musical with a dramatic theatrical lead-in that is broken completely apart by hammering, relentless metal less than two minutes in. The performers are given space to flex here and the result is the perfect finale to the set.

Burn In Many Mirrors is out now. Check out its many parallel instances of tape, download, vinyl, and CD, not to mention merch, at the 20 Buck Spin label link below. Recommended.

Band photo by Phillip James Torriero.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wode.bandcamp.com/music

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Wodecult/

Label, https://www.20buckspin.com/

Wode, Burn In Many Mirrors (20 Buck Spin 2021)

Rorcal & Earthflesh, Witch Coven (Hummus Records 2021)

Witch Coven is the confluence of two rivers coming together in a symphony of Black Metal and Doom wretchedness.

Rorcal is a well-known Doom Metal band from Switzerland that started around 2006 and has released many long-players and EPs through the years. Earthflesh is Bruno da Encarnação who was the bassist for Rorcal until recently and is collaborating with the band under his new moniker. Other band members include Ron Lahyani (drums), Jean-Philippe Schopfer (guitar), Diogo Almeida (guitar), and Yonni Chapatte (vocals). The new album is quite different from what they have done before. It is at times harsh and dissonant, and overall is a fascinating combination of Doom, Noise, Ambient Metal, and Black Metal.

There are two long songs on the album. “Altars of Nothingness” opens with nearly three minutes of voices, like a small choir, in very creepy harmony. The middle is a ritualistic combination of Doom and Black Metal, with sizzling noise and ambient menace to accompany the vocal suffering, clipped and punched by percussion and crushing riffs. The long song ends with what sounds like the screaming of a mammal being sacrificed on an altar and then those voices again as the last thing the sacrifice hears.

“Happiness Sucks, So Do You” is side 2 and it is savage and confrontational at the gate. It is a relentless battering of percussion and guitar sawing and Black Metal vocalizations for the first third. Then we break through into the abyss, and the mood turns to hopelessness. Passing through then ultimately into a merciless dragging through sharp edges and heavy smashings. By the end you don’t have much left and all you can do is reflect.

The two pieces are very different. Both are challenging and journey-oriented. Taking different paths, they are separate explorations in a dark place that in the end combine into a discernable revelation. Recommended.

Witch Coven is out now. The digital is an easy get at Bandcamp, and Hummus Records has vinyl and merch bundles.

Links.

Website Rorcal, https://www.rorcal.com/

Bandcamp Rorcal, https://rorcal.bandcamp.com/

Bandcamp Earthflesh, https://earthflesh.bandcamp.com/

Facebook Rorcal, https://www.facebook.com/Rorcal

Facebook Earthflesh, https://www.facebook.com/earthfleshnoise

Label, https://hummus-records.com/

Rorcal & Earthflesh, Witch Coven (Hummus Records 2021)

Abigorum, Vergessene Stille (Void Wanderer 2021)

The Melodic Black Metal duo Abigorum have finished their second full-length album, Vergessene Stille.

The band is Aleksey Korolyov from Russia and Tino Thiele of Germany. Their previous album, Exaltatus Mechanism, came out in 2019 (with former bandmate Sandra Batsch in the mix). While the music contains many styles, the primary elements are Black Metal and Doom, tied together with ambient intentions.

There are five tracks on the album, four long pieces and a short wind-down at the end. The opener is “Erhebt eure mit Blut gefüllten Hörner” and it is the perfect example of the overarching trajectory of the music with its clear Black Metal persuasion casting about in the Doom and dread. “Der geheimnisvolle Käfig” has a more up-tempo, almost peppy opening segment, but it quickly takes a dark turn, showing you something menacing in the shadows before the bright-light distraction kicks back in. When it comes back, though, there is a demon in there. This song is sinister, and it is the one I remember most.

The title track leads Side 2, followed by “Zerbrechlicher kleiner Geist.” The former brings a maddening warbling drone that transforms into deep Doom and a weighty feeling of sorrow, while the latter has a more theatrical feel to it, painting dark images in penetrating tones. The final word is “Rast und Abschied.” At first it sounds like a storm rumbling up from the void, but then it turns into a curse, and maybe an unsettling prediction. Taken together, the music from Abigorum on this album is a unique and fluid combination of ideas expressed in a captivating theater. Recommended.

Vergessene Stille is out on April 13th in a variety of forms. Duplicate Records will release an LP version, Satanath Records and Black Blood Records will have CD versions, and Void Wanderer Productions is producing a cassette version. There is also always the digital download.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://abigorum.bandcamp.com/album/vergessene-stille

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/abigorum

Void Wanderer, https://voidwanderer.com/

Duplicate Records, https://duplicaterecords.no/

Satanath Records, http://satanath.com/

Black Blood Records, https://www.blackbloodrecords.de/html/01-news.html

Abigorum, Vergessene Stille (Void Wanderer 2021)

Pando, Rites (Aesthetic Death 2021)

Experimental metal duo Pando come back with another layered and complex experience for the initiated and the adventurous.

The band is Adam R. Bryant and Matthew Gagne. The music could be called experimental and/or drone and/or Black Metal and a lot of other things, too. The compositions include sounds, noises, dialogue, chants, guitars, clean vocals and craggy ones, percussion, captures, and expressions.

The set starts with what sounds like an LP of Gregorian Chants being played. A narrative track joins – a man speaking. This goes on for three full minutes, and then the savage voice breaks in and the mood turns from weird to sinister. This new reality goes on for a tight three, then new chanting begins, urgent against a tortured guitar and hopeless choir: “agapē” is the song. With that for an opener you figure anything could come next, all of it equally likely. What you actually get is difficult to put into an closing container.

The music has the feeling of ritual to it, and Rites is the therefore the perfect title for the album. You can get into a state listening to this, an altered state. The second piece is short, “dadaism,” and it will absolutely rattle your nerves with its piercing and pounding. Some tracks sound very much like a traditionally-formed songs, as in “total station theodolite,” which could live comfortably elsewhere. But others like “in god we trust with our cold dead hands” are something that could only really have a home on an album like this one.

Rites makes the most sense to me as an experience. I wouldn’t try to conceive of the separate tracks as individual entities even though many of them work well that way. Take it in all at once, altogether, and see what that does to you. Recommended.

The album is out tomorrow, Friday March 26th. Links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://thetremblinggiant.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/heaviestorganism/

Label, https://www.aestheticdeath.com/

Pando, Rites (Aesthetic Death 2021)

XificurK, 1410 (Void Wanderer Productions 2021)

Polish band XificurK return with a blacker-than-black metal EP, 1410.

The band is a duo who think that Black Metal has gone soft and wants to reinforce the underpinnings, labeling their own work Blackest Metal. They certainly are committed to the themes that surrounded the early movement in the genre, I can attest to that. The music carriers the requisite heaviness and also offers a notable variety in instrumentation and tonal execution. The Metal Archives record the band members as being Sitre De Sitirin (drums, bass, and keys) and Temira De Temirin (vocals, guitar, and drums).

You can hear church bells ringing and the steps of someone walking on hard ground as the song opens. Voices from the crowd outside subside when the door is closed and a gentle refrain takes up, followed by a solitary voice singing in devotional tones, Gregorian chants. The metal kicks in at the two minute mark, coarse and ravaging. Just past the midway point, keys take over as the foundational instrument and the feeling goes over to eerie and, even more, somber. The metal returns for a final battle, and we are walked out on gentle notes. That is how the EP begins, “Vilthaaen.”

“Durmak” is next, followed by “Donabad” and then “Tasna.” There is a driving, story-telling element to the way the music progresses in each song that exists outside of the lyrics. The soundscape generated inhabits a three dimensional space, and in any particular direction it is nonlinear but followable. The compositions take unexpected turns while holding the line on the precept thereby generating reliability and ingenuity simultaneously. Listen to it twice (at least) to soak in the nuance and receive the transference. It is heavy, penetrating Black Metal. Recommended.

The digital version of 1410 is available now and a very limited edition cassette will be out from Void Wanderer on March 31st.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://voidwandererproductions.bandcamp.com/album/1410

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Xificurk.Official

Label, https://voidwanderer.com/

XificurK, 1410 (Void Wanderer Productions 2021)

Varmia, bal Lada (M-Theory Audio 2021)

Black Metal comes face to face with Folk traditions in Varmia’s new album, bal Lada.

Pagan Metal might actually be better label than Black Metal for Poland’s Varmia. The use of traditional instruments gives a Folk Metal influence and intonation, but it is more than that – the compositions themselves are affected by the traditional music. The new one is the third full-length album from the band since 2017, and the musicians are Lasota (guitar and vocals), Alle (bass), Svarrge (drums), and Piotr (percussion and traditional instruments).

The sounds of birds and nature are interrupted first by pounding percussion then by a heavy guitar riff in the opening track, “Woanie.” Traditional folk choral voices give way to a gravely metal lead right at the end of the intro device, and the first landscape begins to be revealed with the next track.

The music both combines and vacillates between passages that are consistent with what you might hear from other heavy bands and pagan ritual music, but there is always something different going on in every song – sometimes it is a turn of phrase and sometimes it is a goat horn. The music is undeniably heavy and weighty (not the same thing at all), and the integration of pagan ideals with Black and Death Metal tropes and trials is fascinating.

The traditional elements sometimes come through in a particularly focused way, as with “Upperan.” Even so, the metal never melts away. I get deeper feelings of the darker side of nature in this song particularly. “O” is another excellent example of this, and even more so as I think about it – I have never heard anything like this music. The album captivated me from start to finish. Recommended.

Bal Lada drops this Friday, March 12th and can be accessed at Bandcamp. More information can be had at the M-Theory Audio website (link below).

Links.

Bandcamp, https://varmiaband.bandcamp.com/album/bal-lada

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/varmiaband/

Label, https://www.m-theoryaudio.com/

Varmia, bal Lada (M-Theory Audio 2021)

Necropanther, In Depths We Sleep (2021)

The EP series continues with a four-track release written by Paul Anop alone and performed by the entire band.

Necropanther has embarked on the unique project of giving every member of the band a go at writing a set of songs and releasing them as stand-alone EPs between full-length albums. It is an interesting idea and so far it is coming off much better than those solo Kiss albums. In Depths We Sleep is guitarist and vocalist Paul Anop’s idea. The other musicians in the band are Joe Johnson (guitar), Marcus Corich (bass), and Haakon Sjogren (drums).

The story the music tells is explained on the Bandcamp page. Here is a bit of it to draw you in. “Our story is set in mid-1800s off the coast of England. Seth Davey is an entertainer and musician. He struggles to make ends meet so he joins a whaling crew for extra money. …[T]hey can’t find any whales. The crew, fed up, mutinies and kills the captain. Trying to get back to port they run into a terrible storm. … The ship sinks and they all die. But Seth Davey’s song lives on.” So keep that in mind while you listen.

The first song emerges from the watery depths accompanied by cetacean voices, “The Descent.” Hang on, descent, so it is going down, not up. Still watery. The human vocals are low, growling, and demonic. On “Benthic Storms” the vocals go full-on Black Metal and the guitars take a turn for the groove and riff while the percussion is all about blasts. “Abyssal Plains,” is back out to sea but this time it sounds like wind to me. This is an instrumental track and establishes a slow burn with quietude at the splash then a gently rising sound that grows turbulent and menacing before receding into the distance.

“Cheers To Seth Davey” is the longest song and it wraps things up nicely. Whalesong (or the like) introduces the environment that faces a lambaste of wretched necrotizing villainy. For all its darkness and melancholy, the track is melodic and possibly even hopeful amidst the all-encompassing death.

In Depths We Sleep is out this Friday in both downloadables and physicals. It is something different and it is an attention-grabber. Recommended.

Band photo by David Novin.

Links.

Website, http://www.necropanther.com

Bandcamp, http://necropanther.bandcamp.com

Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/Necropanther

Necropanther, In Depths We Sleep (2021)

Gorr, Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket (2021)

Norwegian metal duo Gorr strike back with their second album in as many years.

Gorr is Gjøran Sæther, known as Skuggimaðr, and Evan Barton, known as Hateful Wind. The band is in the earlier stages and is still growing into its emerging identity. The musicians have done a lot of work under different fronts and so the experience the have, even if it is relatively new, is also notably deep.

The opening track has a desert vibe to it, which works in arctic environments, too. A solitary guitar alongside a hissing vocal is all that is utilized for the first minute and a half, and then minimal percussion swings in to finish it off. The very next song opens full blast with the vocals mixed heavy into the forefront, posting very black metal. Side one wraps on the contemplative “Mørkt Føre, Mørke Bak” – distressed, forlorn, hopeless.

Rapid riffs crack open the second triplet, forging an opening for rampaging percussion. “Ditt Uendelege Raseri” has a similar opening but a different trajectory, and it is more driving and persistent. The closing song has a droning quality to it at the jump, and an overwhelming, hyper-stimulated essence along with a new raspiness to the vocal. Any intimation of relief is entirely gone by now, and it is no longer simply sadness, it is suffering.

The artists describe the album, in part, this way: “The duality in relying on nature for survival and the very clear sense of doom that follows closely is reflected through this album. Life and death, combat and construction, noble goals and meaningless losses. This is Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket.” Even without the explanation many of these ideas come through very clearly in the music. It makes sense to me. Recommended.

Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket is out now and Bandcamp is the place to pick it up in the US.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://gorr.bandcamp.com/album/kvit-som-sn-en-kald-i-blikket

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/gorrbm

Website, https://gorr.no/

Gorr, Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket (2021)

Profond Barathre, Tinnitus (Hummus Records 2021)

The third album from Switzerland’s Profond Barathe is an instrumental journey through a dark wonderland without a firm concept of edges.

The band is Joachim Braekman (guitar), Morgan d’Argenteuil (drums), and Julien Floch (bass). The first album they released was Un voile de poussière in 2008, followed the very next year by Snaar. There was a split a few years later with Rorcal and Malvoisie that included the massive passage “Illunis,” but mainly the musicians were occupied in other quarters during this while until recently. Tinnitus, then, has been a long time coming and is therefore eagerly anticipated by fans.

The album was recorded a couple of years ago and seeing release only now. There are five long tracks on it, each conveying a unique aspect. “Stella” is ominous, like the story of a plague creeping in before anybody knows it is there. It carries the hallmarks of doom. “Spiritus” has no delineated boundary in a form I can recognize. I do hear black metal nuances in there, intended or not. The music is more active than in the opening song, more directly penetrating.

“Anima” is the most solemn entry of the set, a harbinger of the future of man. “Corpus” is cold and poignant, a marker for all the music herein perhaps but exemplified partiularly in this incarnation. The final track is “Terra” and the music seems sung by a choir of forlorn entities as they slowly diminish into nonexistence. Listening to it a second time prompted me to start at the beginning and when I did I came away with an even stronger sense of the ethereal. However it all came to be, the music on this record is moving in ways both quiet and thundering. Recommended.

Tinnitus is available in full on Friday, February 26th and can be preordered now. Hummus Records has a couple of vinyl versions in extremely limited supply.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://profondbarathre.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/profondbarathre

Hummus Records, https://hummus-records.com/

Profond Barathre, Tinnitus (Hummus Records 2021)

Socioclast, Socioclast (Carbonized Records 2021)

The first album from California metal trio Socioclast is a ferocious declaration of intent to rattle the cages of the status quo.

The musicians that form Socioclast walk on from bands like Mortuous, Altars, and In Disgust, and they are Colin Tarvin (bass, vocals), Matt Gomes (guitar), Cris Rodriguez (drums). With a home base of San Jose and a musical ethic of grindcore, the band has an energetic pathology. It should be fairly obvious from the name they have chosen that they have a lot to say about society, mostly not complimentary. The music, then, is tuned to the outrage of their observations and constructed for maximal impact.

There are sixteen songs on the new self-titled album, all but one less than two minutes long and almost half clocking less than sixty seconds. Blast beats abound. As does the irrepressible voice of Tarvin which I had already come to admire from his previous work. Not a lot of slow songs here, but there is the occasional doom moment, as in the way “Terminal Regress” begins, for example. Mainly you can expect a blistering pace and bursts of chaos.

The whole album is great, and I do have a couple of favorites. “Eden’s Tongue,” in particular – I love the Black Metal sinews and the arching back in the middle. The co-curricular vocals in “Convention Of Ruin” gave me a similar rush. “Surrogate Will” wins the prize for making me dizziest. “Concrete and Steel” is the long track at the end, running 2:48. It has a melancholy opening refrain that stuck with me even after the churning heat of the rest of the song. It is a good capstone to the set. I am onboard. Recommended.

Socioclast is out tomorrow in many and varied forms from Carbonized Records.

Band photo by Anna Gomes.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://carbonizedrecords.bandcamp.com/album/socioclast

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/carbonizedrecords/

Carbonized Records, https://carbonized-records.myshopify.com/

Socioclast, Socioclast (Carbonized Records 2021)