Black Lion Records, 25.04.18 Wormlight was conceived under the name Unhallowed in Umeå, Sweden in 2014. The line-up was somewhat turbulent at first, and the band changed both lyrical themes and names whence the crew eventually began to stabilize later that year.
Thereafter, the band released two EPs in 2014 and 2015 before they now present 55 minutes of melodic black metal that enrapture quite well.
The Swedish quartet deliver lots of flaming melody with nifty flow and ditto moods, and they succeed in impressing me with their first full length.
I receive Bloodfields, the band's second EP, when it was re-released in 2016. It didn't sound too bad, but the exaggerated vocal became a bit too much. Tiamat Invictuz (Sons Ov Omega) has taken over the vocal duties, and his vocal style is quite different. Grating lamentation seems to plough its way out from the intestines. The somewhat guttural rasping vocals, suits this not entirely pitch black material.
The atmosphere ain't fully extreme. It seems instead haunted by the spirits of the past, plagued by guilt. It bottles up its feelings inside. It swallows its sadness with pride. While threatening dark clouds accumulate in the mind, it's a sensation of yore that manifests. And the moods are coloured by melancholy.
The music is dynamic and melodic. While the vocal grumbles harshly and the drums clatter like rattlesnakes, the melodies dance like fireflies in the darkness of night. The variation is good and the sound is rich and pleasant. Wrath of the Wilds is all-in-all a very comfortable album. So comfortable, that even the duration of close to an hour shouldn't be discouraging to anyone. Rating: 5
Ashen Dominion, 26.04.18
On the same day, two albums of Ukrainian KZOHH are released. The re-release of their sophomore album, originally released in 2015, and their brand new album.
The only information I had about Rye. Fleas. Chrismon. when these words were initially written, was dry as dust technical data. When forced to guess, my imagination ran wild. I figure that's just as well.
The album with the strange name 26, in turn, is hot off the pressing plant. It only has two songs, but they are lengthy.
But we start with the beginning. KZOHH was formed in 2014, and debuted the same year. The crew, consisting of people from bands such as Khors, Ulvegr and Reusmarkt, etc., has fortunately been quite stable, as the band's name is composed of the first letter in the pseudonyms of the respective five members. One replacement has nevertheless taken place. Zhoth admittedly had to acquire a new alias when replacing Zorn as vocalist between the first two albums.
Rye. Fleas. Chrismon.
Rye. Fleas. Chrismon. doesn't offer a quiet moment, even when the music plays second fiddle or takes a break. The music ain't lying as a die-cast lid over the claustrophobic well that we're trapped in, but the cold water beneath us still boils constantly. As if something down there can't wait to feed on us. There is hardly a moment of silence. Even when the music - purely instrumentally - is absent, the sonic attributes boil and seethe like countless aggressive and wriggling piranhas.
The sound of chains, weeping, crows, horse carts, scratching rats, cracking doors with rusty handles, chanting priests, crackling flames, cackling witches, footsteps down wet cobblestoned streets et al. is spinning like dissociative voices in the head.
The black metal is aggressive, raw and foreboding. Threatening and angst-ridden. Full of occult eeriness. A bit of Necros Christos. A little Cultes Des Ghoules*. With elements of dark ambient to reinforce the already thick atmosphere. It's as if persistent energies are left behind, being unleashed in a severe outburst after lying dormant since time immemorial. The sensation of discomfort and the odour of fear has never left the crime scene, though.
Moods of dark sorcery and witchcraft flows like viscous blood from the speakers. Associations to The Dreams in the Witch House and similar odious literature do appear. Further fantasies revolve around the reign of terror under the more than 300 years long witch-hunt and the about 600 years of inquisition. Rating: 4+
Dilogy: Bring Out Your Dead
As if the original duration of just under an hour wasn't enough, an additional chapter has been added. Dilogy: Bring Out Your Dead pushes the release up to just over an hour and a quarter. I assumed these songs were previously unreleased, but that turned out to be wrong. In fact, they were already thrown in as bonus on one of two CD versions released in 2015.
The two songs 1665 and 1666 deal with disastrous events in London during those years. In excess of 300 years after first hitting European soil and killing about 60% of the population, England's largest city fell victim to the last wave of the gruesome pandemic known as the Black Death. The Great Plague arrived in the metropolis in the summer of 1665, and lasted until the next disaster struck the city. By that time, ¼ of the city's inhabitants had lost their lives to the bubonic plague.
In September 1666, London became the prey of flames. As if plague wasn't enough for a city already burdening with poverty and distress, the city went from the bacteriological frying pan and into the fire when the city caught fire. Amongst other, the inferno transformed 13,200 houses to ash and made ⅞ of the City of London's residents, i.e. about 70,000 people, homeless in the process. Rating: 4
We proceed to this year's album, 26. If you think the album's title is remarkable, wait until you read the name of the songs. They are coordinates, matching each story. As mentioned, there's only two songs, but the duration of the album hits 39 minutes.
Each song has its concept, just like a short short story collection. Knowledge of the concept actually gives the music a bit more value. The music itself is far more atmospheric than on the previous album, which basically doesn't appeal all that much to me personally. The soaring, somewhat mystical moods, nevertheless fits well with the unpleasant stories being told.
The events underlying the song 51°23'20"N,30°6'38"E unfolds in KZOHH's homeland. The story of the disaster that hit Chernobyl in 1986 is still world-renown. The accident that took place in the nuclear power plant about 110 kilometres north of Kiev in April 1986 is considered the world's most grave nuclear disaster thus far. The explosion in Reactor 4 was powerful enough to treat the 500-2,000 metric tons (depending on source) reactor lid as a champagne cork, and it has cost 9,000 people their lives.
The story behind 61°45'17"N,59°27'46"E, however, is not as well known. In 1959, nine out of ten members of an expedition in the Ural Mountains in Siberia died under mysterious circumstances. All of them experienced outdoor trekkers/skiers. The Dyatlov Pass, where the accident occurred, is named after the leader of the expedition. In the darkness of night, the tents had been ripped open from the inside, and all members of the team had left camp very insufficiently clothed and equipped. Some even barefoot in temperatures down to about -30°C, or around -20°F. Most of them froze to death. Some wearing nothing but underwear. Some were found severely injured, with fractures and broken ribs, but little external damage, suggesting that the fractures were caused by tremendous pressure rather than falls or being hit by something or someone. In addition, one person lacked both tongue and eyes, as well as parts of the lips and face. The actual cause of the members' behaviour and consecutive
deaths, remains a mystery.
The sole survivor, had to turn back due to health issues prior to the group reaching the slope on the mountain side where they encamped. The approximately 1000 meter high mountain is called Kholat Syakhl, meaning “mountain of death” in the tongue of the local indigenous people. Rating: 4-
This protracted review became lots of history and less music talk. I should have told you this at the outset, but you'd be better of listening to the metal as you read. I guess it's quite natural for most people to do so anyway. That way you'll be sure to get an impression of the music soon enough. Underneath are two moody video teasers from 26. The album can also be heard in its entirety via Grand Sounds PR.
Debemur Morti Productions, 13.04.18
Norwegian Wallachia was formed in 1992 by Lars Stavdal. With a mood of majestic gothic vampirism and symphonic appearance, in addition to extensive use of exceptional vocals effects in the early years, Wallachia has always distinguished itself as an isolated anomaly in the Norwegian black metal scene.
As you might know, Bram Stoker's main inspiration for Dracula, was Vlad “the impaler” Ţepeş, the most notorious sovereign prince of the Romanian region and former principality Wallachia, located between the Carpathians and Transylvania.
Wallachia's 90's period was briefly presented in connection with the EP Carpathia Symphonia. After the debut From Behind the Light (1999), which followed in the wake of Demo 1996, it became awfully quiet around Wallachia. Ten years after the first full-length, activity fortunately picked up again. In 2009 and 2012 respectively, the albums Ceremony of Ascension and Shunya were released, before said EP was released in 2015. The two latest albums showed a slightly different side of the band. The primitive vampire romanticism was replaced with folkloric melodies and experimental fairytale-synth. Roughly speaking, the band had evolved from Dimmu Borgir's universe to Windir's landscape. One could say that Wallachia has always had a somewhat gothic, melodic and symphonic angle, or as the press-release describes them; “symphonic pagan black metalclassicists”. It can also be mentioned that Monumental Heresy is dedicated to the memory of Terje “Valfar” Bakken and Windir.
Once again, a series of years have gone by before Lars anew is ready to enter the stage. As usual, he has taken his time, and avoided rushing things, even though a lot of water has gone under the bridge since new material was previously released. Time has again brought minor gradual evolutionary changes. The band that was started as a one-man band has evolved far beyond that. Lars has received increasing amounts of help on the former albums, while Monumental Heresy sees Wallachia turning into a bigger orchestra than ever. The actual number of full-time members, depends on the source, though.
Main man and songwriter, Mr. Stavdal, plays all forms of guitar in addition to using EBow - a hand-held electronic device that causes one guitar string at the time to vibrate, making approximately the same sound as using a violin bow on it would. He also delivers a bit of background vocals. The other contributors are guitarist and keyboardist Paal André and bassist Ludvik, colleagues of Stavdal from the band No Dawn, Austrian Grolig on vocals, countryman T. Martyr (Irdorath, Nocturne live) on drums, and countrywoman Dr. Caroline on cello. Forefather's Athelstan has guested on keyboard and percussion, plus arranged the lovely intro and outro. Several artists have contributed as choir, in addition to Italian Æterna, who deliver fair female vocal on the song The Parallel Fate of Dreams.
The music feels more versatile on Monumental Heresy, and thus appears as a tad different, without really deviating all that much. The music is quite recognizable, although the album's eight tracks move in diverse directions and create their individual identity. The songs do, however, follow each other arm in arm, like beads on a string, creating a functioning overall, coloured by the individual song's common ethos.
Opener Heathen Shore begins with Athelstan's wonderful intro baked into its beginning. This fits the majestic title of the release very well. As the song progress, magnificent atmosphere meets devilish dissatisfaction from the disfigured vocal that resonate in the cellar below the courtyard of the castle. Most of the album's songs are symphonic and melodic, with lurking overtones of said folklore.
Towards the end of the first half, the mood thickens. Silenced no Longer offers darker aggression and dramatic tristesse, rich on cello, before The Parallel Fate of Dreams makes me think of beauty and the beast due to piano, string instruments and Æterna's harmonious voice, in this calm, sadden and gothic sounding piece. Subsequent Beasts of the Earth becomes a bestial counterpart with its angry vocal and frenetic drive. After another two fairytale-laden songs, where amongst other whistle is incorporated, Monumental Heresy fades out in a grandiose manner. Rating: 5