Carnal Records, 15.12.17 Grafvitnir - three Swedes focusing on grim, ice cold, satanic and occult black metal - continues to release albums with a regular frequency. It's been a year since the previous album came out, just in time to be considered as Christmas present. It took unreasonably long time before I finally presented Obeisance to a Witch Moon half a year ago, though. Keys to the Mysteries Beyond is again a good gift alternative, although I'm not quite as pleased this time around. Something that can nevertheless prove to be based on a misleading and unjustified basis.
EDIT 30.12.17: Vital parts of this review are based on incorrect premises. It turns out that the sound in reality is significantly better than on the first promo I received. I'm not going to juggle back and forth with the actual review, but I hereby correct the grade from 4 to 5.
On their fifth album, Grafvitnir doesn't alter the recipe a whole lot. The band still plays razor sharp black metal that burns like white glowing barbed wire and cuts everything on its way like a thousand razor blades swirling through the air at supersonic speed in random patterns. The band performs black magic and necromantic witchcraft with jagged, ill-natured attitude. With Keys to the Mysteries Beyond, Grafvitnir anew presents piercing frequencies that threaten to cut vital nerve fibres when the music penetrates the ears.
The expression is ass-kicking and the material remains solid. I, on my part, nevertheless don't get the same sadistic pleasure revelling in this work. I'm not as satisfied with the mix, and I'm not entirely content with the production. (Admittedly, this may in fact be all wrong, as you can see in the PS at the bottom.) Where Obeisance to a Witch Moon had rich and thundering sound that caused the mountain itself to rumble when the witch's screams fill the forest air, the sound on Keys two the Mysteries Beyond is not as powerful. The drums are reduced to crackling creaks and bass from a shuddering earth has fainted and faded away due to the violent quakes. As I feel that the mix becomes a bit unfortunate and the sound becomes a bit too thin, the music is deprived of a vital dimension. A bit more bass, and more distinct percussion, would have been more fitting for those initially relatively melodic guitar tones. Thus, some of the depth I appreciated on the former occasion has disappears.
As last time, mix and production is handled by the band's own Niantiel (Ex-Grá), while the mastering responsibility has been left to Devo (Marduk) in Endarker Studio. The difference, and (in my ears) reduction in quality, is therefore a bit surprising and disappointing. However, it doesn't entirely damage the impression the music inculcates with repeated axe chops. The music still sounds biting and necro as hell, and if someone insists that's enough, there's no point protesting. In addition, the sound has acceptable dynamics so that you can crank up the volume and cut your ears till they bleed, without scorching the ears like a long forgotten pizza in the oven, charred beyond recognition.
Keys to the Mysteries Beyond is still an ice-wind blowing with the force of a storm, carrying water particles frozen to cutting miniature ice-knives. Decide for yourself what to make of the mentioned nitpicks. It's good, nevertheless.
PS: As I finalize this review by adding musical samples, I find that the sound of the songs on line is very different, and richer than what it is on the songs I've received. Ergo, I can't disregard that the final result in physical format might just be on par with Obeisance to a Witch Moon after all. Thus, Keys to the Mysteries Beyond might deserve a higher rating. But I can only relate to the promo I've received, and I can't be fucking bothered rewriting this review. Rating: 5-
I, Voidhanger Records&Invictus Prod., 31.10.17 Inconcessus Lux Lucis was at risk of becoming forgotten in the cumbersome quantity of releases. An unfortunate fate shared by many, as there's just not enough time. Fortunately, I picked The Crowning Quietus by chance as musical companion for a stroll the other day. Not that the album impresses all that much at first glance, but something about its style stands out and triggers curiosity.
I really doubt that the home made genre designation of the British duo, “Saturnian Black Magick”, will leave you with the biggest intuitive insight, though.
At first glance, Inconcessus Lux Lucis seems to reel off okay melodic extreme metal without the biggest news value. The extreme metallic aspects of the duo's second album is alright, with a nice flair for melody in an otherwise rather feverish and rabid expression. However, this part of the expression seems to me so conventional that the word generic finds its way to the tip of my tongue. The album is nevertheless considerably better than merely mediocre, fortunately.
What makes The Crowning Quietus somewhat more interesting, is a certain appearance of classic rocking metal. When you take a closer look at the band, the black hybrid of these Brits has a proto-touch that smells of classic heavy metal. The galloping rhythms in the second half of At the Behest of the Sinister Impulse and the guitar works in The Crowning Quietus can stand as examples of this.
With just about 37 minutes, The Crowning Quietus is a rather short and concise release. The sound, with acceptable dynamic range, has been produced by Tore Stjerna in Necromorbus Studio, and fits the style and attitude very well, of course.
The oldest influences never becomes too dominant. This modest presence of idiosyncratic appearance rather arouse curiosity and cause attention. I'd like to see this approach to a unique alloy develop a step further till next time, so that the band's expression don't drowned in the quantity of releases in the future either. Fever Upon The Firmament, which ends the disc, is really something else. In addition to crowning this work, this unique specimen can also serve as inspiration for future songwriting.
Not a mighty impressive album, but still a highly listenable one, characterized by a quite fascinating genre hybrid. Rating: 4-
Bloody Mountain Records, 01.12.17 Valdur comes from scenic Mammoth Lakes, more or less located in a belt of national parks in California. The music, however, is far from as idyllic. The cover art, along with the first 7 seconds of Divine Cessation, might give a somewhat wrong impression, though, with associations differing from the actual music. Which instead sounds as if its got more in common with odious artists residing further south on the continent.
It's been ten years since the band released its first album, even though the band was formed as the end was nigh on the nineties, and this here is number five.
Valdur performs resounding black death in a primitive manner that automatically feels occult and ritual, yet which is too primal to appear as an organized ceremony.
Guitarist Vuke and bassist William stands on each side of drummer Matthew, in a dominant, masculine and powerful feet-apart-posture. Together, the string-benders create infernal roaring rumble that's being accompanied by bestial rhythms. In the background, so far inside the ravine that he can barely be seen, JF delivers guttural grunts an ogre worthy. His deep growling is reinforced by steep rock walls that shoot the sound back with hard granite rock that neither absorbs nor mutes a single tone.
In the song Plague Born of a Dying Star, Sean Psykho Combat (Ritual Combat) also participates with psychotic black shrieks in the background.
Riffs and rhythm moves fast, whilst nevertheless forming a powerful dark substance that ebbs and flows like a river as it runs slowly like lava. Thus, this lurking black/death gives a suggestive doomy atmosphere that immerse the listener in what feels like mortar. A few separate effects can be mentioned. Percussion with stylish and interesting effects occur a few places, such as just over a minute into Divine Cessation. But the most effective special effect is presented when the hypnosis has reached its climax.
As the end draws nigh on 41 minutes long Divine Cessation, just shortly before coming to a halt towards the last breath of Potent Black Orb, a kind of unpleasant and foreboding techno-effect arrives. This sends the listener back to reality and consciousness by pushing him out of his comfort zone. A tough fuckin' album! Rating: 5
If you'd like to check out more of Valdur, you can do so at this location.
Clavis Secretorvm, 04.12.17
Swiss Asknt, also known as Sinnihr, is the man behind DSKNT Industry, some kind of artistic concept or enterprise involved in design, production, et al.
In 2013, DSKNT was separated into a sonic subdivision. However, parts of the material on PhSPHR Entropy are older than that, as it was initially composed shortly after Ab Occulto, another band Asknt is involved with, was put on ice in 2010.
At the time of writing, two splits are under production. These are likely to be released in 2018, and much suggests that Antiversum's vocalist will be attending.
This one-man band performs a form of black metal that, as a degenerate, is located in the outermost area of the chain of evolution. The bastard offspring sits in a corner of the asylum, rocking back and forth in an institutionalized manner. Electrical sensors and rubber hoses with unidentified fluids are attached to the skin, while other electronic signal wiring penetrates the skull, with probes attached to the brain. Cause that's where the interesting stuff is happening.
Deep within mental labyrinths, lies a mental illusion (or delusion) of Hell's entrance. Miles of unimaginable catacombs must be traversed on the way thereto, and before long, the way back is just as uncertain as the direction ahead.
DSKNT reels off a torrent of black tones that resound and flow in a hypnotic fashion. Small alterations, like irregular echoes of atonal variations, prevents the monotony from appearing as entirely similar sounding. Likewise, indifference and boredom are avoided due to dystopian dissonance. A moody hypnosis propagates like aggressive antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the bloodstream.
PhSPHR Entropy is not for everyone. But for those who enjoy a sting of anxiety and claustrophobia, fostered by hermetic gnosticism and misanthropy, this soporific bad trip could trigger some real nightmares. I have on several occasions allowed DSKNT to accompany me into slumberland, and I can recommend the album for either condition; awake and unconscious. Rating: 4+