Blood Harvest, 23.04.18
Australian Vahrzaw isn't easy to place geographically. They could just as well have hailed from Northern Europe.
Their second album, Twin Suns & Wolves, was first presented in 2014, before being re-introduced in connection with the re-release in 2016.
We once again return to 2018. But that's not a problem. Good music doesn't expire.
With Husk, the deadly trio still delivered a powerful death blow, reeking of scorched black moods. And they did so with the same line-up as four years earlier.
Vahrzaw still play fierce extreme metal. Juicy death riffs with the occasional morbid solo, escorted by vigorous rhythms and abundant variety in its encounter with gloomy moods of a more ominous nature.
The not very powerful, talkative black vocals, at occasions rasping as a rusty saw, could probably present a challenge for some throughout Twin Suns & Wolves. The black vox are assigned more punch this time. A welcome development. It also gets a bit of relief, as guttural gurgling takes over parts of the vocal duty.
As a supplier of quality, Vahrzaw belongs to the better half of the scene where lethal entities rage. Even in the upper echelon, however, the releases are so many that it requires more to be amazed than what Vahrzaw has in stock. Husk still has enough punchy thrust, atmosphere, details and substance in stock in their warmongering arsenal, to make their third full-length easy to recommend to the target audience.
After Husk, Vahrzaw was allegedly bitter and disillusioned. Rather burned out, in other words. The band seriously considered putting the instruments on the shelf for good. The inevitable creative abstinences, however, is oftentimes an artist's ball and chain. Whatever the reason; Husk fortunately wasn't the last we ever heard from Vahrzaw.
The Australians will release a new album by title The Trembling Voices of Conquered Men during 2019. Rating: 4+
Avantgarde Music, 08.04.18
Yet another ageing draft to be processed. Borgne came into existence 20 years before the release of [∞]. It wasn't until about ten years after the conception that the activity really took off, though. From there on, things escalated rapidly.
In addition to other releases, the discography now consist of seven or eight albums, depending on source. Borgne operated entirely as a one-man band on the first three albums. On the next three, Bornyhake (Enoid, et al.) allowed others to participate as session artists.
On [∞], Lady Kaos - who guested on the two previous albums - has gained her full-time membership.
The title of the new album, [∞], in this case represents both the symbol of infinity, and the number 8. The press release states that the eighth full length of the band adequately also consists of eight songs. Borgne also recognizes [∞] as number 8. However, the two most complete encyclopaedias on the web disagree with the number. They claim that [∞] is number 7 in the row, just to clarify the small deviation mentioned in the preamble.
The music is black, but not conventionally “necro-orthodox”. Something that shouldn't come as a surprise to existing fans. My knowledge of the Swiss band is admittedly limited to just two previous releases. The most critically acclaimed, it may seem. These have been oppressive and ominous, with undertones of a symphonic kind to balance out the most claustrophobic discomfort. Of the two I've listened to, Royaume des ombres (2012) is the one that has left the strongest impression.
Not unexpectedly, [∞] is also an exercise in intensity. The first material that hits the listener, after the initial pernicious seconds, is electric. The music strikes sparks like a wire breakage and short circuit in the local high-voltage transmission, illuminating the night sky with flickering arc-discharges that sparkle like a persistent lightning, and a shower of sparks that drizzle like glowing stardust.
Parts of the material are reminiscent of cacophonic whirlpools of black and deadly metal, like we know it from acts like Autokrator and that sort. But there are other aspects that separate Borgne from these barbaric hordes. A ghostly mood reigns from the very first moment. Negative energies have become stuck within the grooves. In addition, clinical industrial elements of ambiance deprive the music of all of its human traits.
If there is one thing I'd want to nitpick about, it's the low dynamic range. Constricted dynamics makes resounding music sound more piercing. In this case, the soundscape is very compressed. This is not significantly noticeable at a moderate volume, but when you crank it up, the ears are exposed to inhumane pressure waves that threaten to expose the skull to implosion.
Beyond that, the music is fantastically hypnotic, and I choose to sum it up with three words:
Ghostly - Ghastly - Ghoulish
(Is that what they call 3G?) Rating: 5
Immortal Frost Productions, 25.06.18
There's three bands named Myrkvid. Confusingly enough, all of them are black metal bands located in France.
While two of these have been inactive or disbanded for quite some time, only the band from the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, on the border to Switzerland, is still live and kicking.
The band was conceived in 2007, and released the EP Satanic Inquisition in 2010, and their first album were released at the end of 2013, titled Pleasures of Hell.
My first encounter with them was last year's Demons Are Inside.
The 25 minutes long EP opens with diabolical black'n'roll in the form of the song with the enjoyable title Wish You Were Hell. The music is not particularly jovial, though. The vocals are snarling and the pace gradually increases.
Through six songs, the band showcase dark moods and a sometimes devilish hunting rush. Rather than resorting to a simple, stylized expression, the band blends different black metal inspirations, without sounding schizophrenic.
The somewhat droning and rather warm guitar sound, along with the synchronous rumble from the bass, rob the music of its potential chill. Something some listeners might consider a drawback. Personally, I'm less fond of the static sound of staccato drum rhythms, something that occurs a bit too often.
The band ends off with a cover of Bathory's The Return of Darkness and Evil, which in this case sounds a bit more like a rabid, punkish version of a Motörhead song inspired by old Metallica and Venom. This can be seen as a compliment, for if you're going to do a cover, you might as well transform it into something fairly unrecognisable.
All in all, Myrkvid demonstrates good flair for pitch black song writing and performance.
The final result may be a wee bit flawed, but the guys definitely have the potential to make it in the scene.
Osmose Productions, 22.02.19
Three years after the debut, Norway's slowest and heaviest symphony orchestra delivers a new opus.
The band was presented in connection with A Winter's Tale. Since then, drummer Asgeir Mickelson has been replaced by Tjodalv, probably best known for his time in Dimmu Borgir and Old Man's Child, although Susperia has been his habitat since the millennium shift. Tjodalv also plays with Abyssic's orchestral mastermind André Aaslie in Gromth. Along with newcomer and femme fatale, Makhashanah (ex-Sirenia and live for Asagraum), Abyssic has grown from quartet to quintet.
High The Memory almost has the same long duration as A Winter's Tale, meaning more than an hour and a quarter. Four songs, however, have grown to five. The song's individual playing time basically corresponds to those on the debut, that is, if the title song from there had been split into 20 and 8 minutes respectively.
But let's leave nerdy facts aside.
Abyssic shows some development, although the cobbler largely sticks to his last. The band still presents heavy, melodic moods with slow, doomy drive. The music is neither cheerful nor pitch dark, but flows somewhere in between, in an esoteric, enigmatic way. The moods can thus be a bit difficult to put one's finger on. The atmosphere is first and foremost mighty, no matter what inner visions the music triggers.
Hints of a blackened influence, however, sneak into the opening track Adornation. Thereafter, this devilish flair fades into concealment, just to reappear at the end of the journey. In the final song, Dreams Become Flesh, whipping winds of some dim demonic presence reappear from oblivion, contributing to the spirited, all-encompassing diversity.
Beyond this, the music of High The Memory is more or less as described in connection with A Winter's Tale. Thus, I see no reason to repeat myself, other than to restate that the music is once again a virtuoso extreme-metallic symphony for laid-back souls. Like some unreal and at times disturbing dream, High The Memory creates dramatic and majestic, yet oh-so unfathomable moods. Fascinating! Rating: 5
Heidens Hart Records, 08.02.19 Svarthymn from Sweden, was a short-lived project from 1999 to 2001.
The only material they ever released, were three songs on a split with Armagedda, released in 2001. In Blackest Ruin, as this cassette release was called, was sadly plagued by terribly meagre sound.
Almost exactly six years ago, these three songs were reissued as an EP, with the original studio sound, via Heidens Hart Records.
Now, this is made available again. This time digitally.
The music the band managed to showcase before they deteriorated and pretty much went into oblivion, was doomy and mournful black metal. Their mid-tempo and somewhat melodic tones emit a feeling of discouragement, bitterness, and resentful depression, along with a a whiff of the 90's. The songs were written from 1999 to 2000, and recorded in 2001.
Fans of evocative, subdued dsbm, should check out this EP.
A piece of good news at the end. Last year, this rotting cadaver arose from the grave.
New material is allegedly in the making.