Categories
Review

TELEPORT tear holes in time & space with “The Expansion” EP

For the creative mind, sometimes ignorance or lack of comprehension breed the most original ideas. Where there are no concrete facts, neither is there anything to weigh at the heels of inspiration, no definitive answers to questions that serve only to open fresh vistas of thought, and no boundaries. As we have come into the 21st century, there is little that is not known regarding our inconsequential home we call Earth. Science has come to a point where nature is all but naked before us, and we have largely become jaded to her wonders. So where do we go from here? Kirk had it right when he spoke those iconic words: “Space, the final frontier…” and though he was referring to literal stellar expansion, his words ring true in the minds of earthbound artists, particularly those four Slovenian necronauts in the band Teleport.

Taking the death metal genre and sending it from the serial killer’s basement, up and out into cosmic reaches unknown, Teleport are yet another fresh group of musical explorators attempting to capture the weird and unearthly in a sonic medium, among other boundary pushing groups like Blood Incantation and Gorguts. The band has been around since 2010, releasing an array of demos that have catalogued their metamorphosis into a fine tuned, incredibly complex machine, thus far culminating in The Expansion.

Though yet another short release, the three songs that make up The Expansion are expansive and grandiose in scope. Like some kind of hyperspatial anomale, it is mind boggling that Teleport can jam so much progression and complexity into songs not reaching 10 minutes. For instance, the demo’s namesake, “The Expansion”, is 6:17, yet by the time the song ends, the listener feels as though they’ve just traversed whole nebulae. This musical density is due to the demoralizing proficiency of the band. Traces of jazz are infused with the scathing speed and ferocity of death, seamlessly merging into vast tapestries.

Though Teleport are undoubtedly death metal, the music is not preoccupied with being overtly fast or even all that brutal. The real power in The Expansion lies is the interlocking strands of instrumentation that are constantly in a state of change and evolution. The drums, in particular, create an unerring framework of non-euclidean enormity, changing on a dime from blast beats to subtle flourishes and cymbal work that lurk beneath the ray – like crossfire of the guitars’ alien dissonance. In this, Teleport are not easily digestible, even for a technical death metal band. Much like a Deathspell Omega, the levels of dissonance and unconventional play will take even the most stalwart listener by surprise, demanding many subsequent listens to truly grasp the many threads present in the songwriting. To both their credit and detriment, there is not much room left for headbanging simplicity. Rarely does the listener ever find a moment of comfort or familiarity, constantly put off balance by the labyrinthine trajectory of Teleport’s incredible musical capabilities.

While Teleport are but one of countless other bands to attempt to emulate the great unknown of space, they are undoubtedly more successful than most in emulating its mystery and unfathomable nature. The Expansion displays a band at a point of refinement and proficiency, that we can only hope a full length is on the way.


EDGED CIRCLE PRODUCTIONS is proud to present TELEPORT’s The Expansion on CD format. Originally released on cassette by Caligari Records tape during the autumn of 2018 but selling out extremely quickly.

BANDCAMP
FACEBOOK

Categories
Review

KALEIKR infuses introspection into their maelstrom with “Heart of Lead”

Heart of Lead comes to us in the early stages of 2019, the first full length from the Icelandic black metal duo comprised of two former members of DraugsólKALEIKR will inevitably be classified as black metal, but after one listen it becomes evident just how complex the duo really is, drawing influence from a variety of genres such as post-rock, prog, folk, and death – amounting in a beautiful final product transcending traditional metal classification.

The album starts with the atmospheric introductory track “Beheld at Sunrise”, a beautiful building soundscape reminiscent of traditional Cascadian black metal. At this point I was already intrigued, expecting a well-rounded atmospheric release in the tradition of Wolves in the Throne Room or Agalloch. On the contrary, the album takes a much different turn with “The Descent”, revealing its underlying complexities and a taste of what is to follow.  This track along with the next few exhibit a more complex death metal feel, all whilst still holding onto the intricately crafted atmosphere established in the intro, culminating in something that sounds like a doom version of Rivers of Nihil. An unexpected but welcome change. Kaleikr continues to surprise and impress as they progress into the latter half of the album.

Taking a prog-ier turn with “Of Unbearable Longing”, the album begins to show its true nature with an undeniable influence from prog metal greats such as Opeth and Enslaved, especially reminiscent of some of the darker, less structured early works from these progressive giants. All while the record still maintains the blackened roots laid bare in the introductory track. From here the album really takes off, seamlessly jumping back and forth between prog and death, further distorting the lines between genres leading to the climactic conclusion of the album with the title track followed by “Eternal Stalemate and a Never-ending Sunset”. Whilst the first half of the album consists of several tracks all boasting their own unique identity and formulae, the final two songs stir the pot even further, resulting in an eerie and complex end to the album, evoking images of Iceland’s own dark shrouded, mystic winter.  

In conclusion, Heart of Lead is a versatile full length album bringing something to the table for fans of all sub genres, dabbling heavily in the ways of black metal and prog without ever fully committing to either classification. A solid debut album for the Icelandic duo, Heart of Lead puts Kaleikr on the map, a beautifully complex first full length from a duo that seems to still be discovering their true potential. A must listen for black and death metalers alike, reminiscent of Morningrise era Opeth and more recent atmospheric death releases like Where Owls Know my Name by Rivers of Nihil, Heart of Lead is an all around solid debut album. I am left with the ultimate impression that Kaleikr is just getting started. This well-crafted foray into progressive metal establishes the Icelandic duo whilst still leaving their full potential in the shadows. Kaleikr is definitely a band that has just begun to scratch the surface of their own identity. An evolution I look forward to monitoring in years to come.


Unleashed through Debemur Morti Productions on vinyl & CD. 

FACEBOOK

Categories
Review

DEPARTURE CHANDELIER craft an ode to imperial evil on “Antichrist Rise To Power”

March on, march on! The bells of Corsica ring again and the demon of wrath returns. Departure Chandelier brings forth the violence and despair of the Napoleonic Wars into the 21st century, bellowing the eternal Emperor’s battlecry from the bloodstained France of yore. “Antichrist Rise To Power” is an eternal reminder of the legacy of Napoleon Bonaparte’s cruelty and majesty. Departure Chandelier’s raw and blistered take on what is almost instantly recognized as French black metal invokes power, glory, and the cratered hands of defeat.

The album opens up with the somber scene of Napoleon’s death, the guitars buzz with sorrow and absolution, but death is only the beginning of the emperors immortality. The keyboards play an important part in setting the scene, obstructing your thoughts with a funerary veil, adding to the atmosphere of life slipping away.

As he dies, Departure Chandelier boldly claims they are “Forever Faithful To The Emperor”. Guitars crackle with anger across the war torn landscape, as triumphant keys lead your charge across the bridge of Arcole and into the cannonfire; swayed by the omnipresent words of a demigod. His Emperor’s glory is only proceeded by his evil. DC pulls you into the “Catacombs Beneath the Castle of the Marquis”. Occult and malicious riffs transitioning into ethereal leads leave you standing awestruck at the Crypt of the Sepultural Lantern, face to face with the bleached bones of those sacrificed to the rule of the dark lord of France.

Further you are entrapped within the marble epitaph with the self titled dirge “Departure Chandelier”. No sooner are you thrust back into the battlefield with “A Sacrifice to the Corsica Antichrist”. Whether it is on the frozen plains of Russia or marching the glacial alps, the raw and rime covered tone dub you but a pawn destined for the mausoleum for the conquest of the black king. The final riff on “Re-establish the Black Rule of France” stirs the spirit of revolution inside of you; Decidedly symphonic, There is no denying the feeling of glory above all else.

“My downfall leads me to even greater heights.” 
-Napoleon Bonaparte

A tyrant born on the day of the feast of assumption, one who rose to the power he despised, fueled by scorn; only to cackle upon the gates of hedonism and rise above his fellow man to an infernal throne of pleasure. Departure Chandelier resurrects the spirit of the true antichrist. With a ghostly aura thanks to the intangible keys and a guitar tone encased in centuries old natron, “Antichrist Rise to Power” keeps the French ideal of radicalizing tradition while weaving a tale of one of history’s most brutal autocrats. Following in the footsteps of Les Légions Noires, the March of the Black Holocaust will be led by the black emperor himself.


Due out on vinyl & CD by Nuclear War Now! Productions on February 28.

Categories
Review

Night of Death and Doom X – HISSING, ABSTRACTER, ENCOFFINATE, WOE MONGER

The ‘Night of Death and Doom’ has come to be an anticipated staple of the Vancouver underground – a labor of love meant to both promote amazing bands from all over and perpetuate that fervent passion of extremity that is shared amongst the maniacs of BC.

The tenth installment of these nasty nights on Saturday, February, 23rd did particular justice to the event’s name, roping in a stacked bill of progressively vile sounding bands that shook the foundations of Pat’s Pub, no doubt driving off those who didn’t already know what was taking place with an unyielding wall of dismal noise.

To break in the crowd and start off the night, Vancouver doomsters, Woe Monger, were first to kill the silence. With a good amount of Sabbath worship, the band still retained an element of ugliness, primarily through the agonized vocal performance, making them a fitting jumping off point and foreshadowing of the downward spiral into madness yet to come.

Following suite was the local barbarian slaughter horde, Encoffinate, who seemed to approach from the distance with an ominous introduction taken from Basil Poledouris’ untouchable score to “Conan The Barbarian”. But by contrast, the epic nature of such orchestration seemed to only give Encoffinate’s grotesque chugging an added weight as the slow gallop of gore drenched warbeasts overtook the venue. Playing an array of songs from their upcoming EP, Cimmerian Corpse Dungeon, Encoffinate took no prisoners, crushing the audience with pure primitive energy.

Where Encoffinate were a slaughter in bogs of human refuse, Sentient Ruin Laboratories’ masthead band, Abstracter, were the pall of suffocating miasma that arises in the aftermath. Emoting landscapes of despair, Abstracter brought the atmosphere with the punishment. The crowd were being brutalized under a sky of smog, which rarely ever let up until the band were done.

As though what had already transpired were not enough, the headliners of the night, and the propagators of one of 2018’s most debilitating releases, Hissing, seemed determined to ensure that nothing was left. A flood of smoke engulfed the venue, signalling the onset of pure nausea. Perfectly conjuring the disgusting aura that made their debut full length, Permanent Destitution so incredibly vile, Hissing displayed a startling technicality in their uneven and dissonant sound which defies any sort of convention or trope. As the final destination on what had proven to be a journey to the depths of formlessness and perversion, Hissing proved to be the terminus in every respect.

Yet another Night of Death and Doom went off without a hitch, once more ushering us a little closer towards our inevitable oblivion to the sounds of grotesque instrumentation, wretched swill, and good company.


All video footage by M. Rensmaag. Check out each band at their respective bandcamp pages. BUY OR DIE!!!!!!

HISSING
ABSTRACTER
ENCOFFINATE
WOE MONGER

Categories
Interview Spirit

Without Blood There Is No Quimbanda: The Work Of NICHOLAJ DE MATTOS FRISVOLD

Between August and October 2018, we had the immense pleasure of having a back-and-forth correspondence with Nicholaj De Mattos Frisvold. This was the final interview conducted before we took down the Covenant Magazine in order to revamp and relaunch. With the new site now up, and everything rolled out, the time has come to publish this conversation.

Originally Norwegian born, Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold has been a resident of Brazil for over 15 years. A traveler through various traditions and spiritual legacies, Frisvold focuses his energy upon the wisdom found in African and Afro-derived traditions along with what is generally defined as traditional witchcraft in Europe. Over the years he has deeply involved himself with several streams of this wisdom, such as traditional Ifá, Haitian Vodou, Palo Mayombe, Quimbanda and a rich knowledge of witchcraft from diligent commitment and involvement with various recensions of the ‘witches’ way.’ His experiential knowledge is what sets him apart from the mere ethnologist as a living, breathing practitioner. He allows the Westerner a glimpse into these seemingly alien belief systems and traces their origins to lineages that are all singularly extra-human.

Without further ado, we present to you a small insight in to the mind of one of the modern world’s most important occultists.

Greetings Nicholaj! Once again, thank you for agreeing to this interview. We are admirers of your writing, and we’re excited about the chance to ask a few questions.

At the start of most of your books (with extremely notable examples in Exu and Pomba Gira) you often give a detailed anthropological look at the geographical region and the cultural influences on the practice you are going to be speaking on. You often explore etymology, socioeconomic impact, even immigration in how it has come to a fertile ground for the birth of that spiritual tradition. I’d like to start by doing the same thing for yourself. What are the conditions – ancestrally, geographically, and finally spiritually – that gave way to your own being?

That was perceptive of you, and in truth, I do believe that in order to truly understand a phenomena we need to analyse it from any possible angel, whereas geography, language and history along with aesthetics and art are amongst those avenues that will lead to an understanding of the phenomena as more than just in reference to oneself and one’s own culture and believes. We are all a conglomerate of multiple influences and in terms of ancestry it is quite Nordic for the most part. I have been able to trace my ancestry back to around 800 to the dukes of Fyrisvellir at Uppsala  on one side; but on the other there is French, Italian and African ancestry to be found through migration and marriage. Geographically I was born in Norway, lived in Sweden for some time and from age of 15 travelled a lot around the world finding myself chronically restless in Scandinavia until I visited Brazil 16 years ago and finally found the place where it was surprisingly easy to allow myself to root.

Spiritually I will have to say that, looking back, I was somehow always on the search for the quintessence of magic, which led me to investigate and get involved in traditional forms of cult and faith and it was with African faiths, especially Ifá and vodou that I found the quintessence which is also reflected in true witchcraft of land, legacy and blood, a natural and pragmatic spiritual philosophy that don’t make a distinction between the sacred and profane but lifts everything into a field of understanding through the interaction of polarities and nuances. In short, I consider myself as a pragmatic traditionalist that accepts the post-modern reality which translates into always having a secure foundation and the axis in order, but the landscape of experience of observation will always be like my opinions, fluid, dynamic and mutable.

That juxtaposition you present above reminds me of an interesting point brought up by the American author Tamara Siuda in her simply titled, but utterly excellent work “Haitian Vodou”. She reminds the reader that in order to fully understand the diasporic faiths, the European and North American reader must be ready to fully abandon and restructure potentially subliminal influences, personal conjecture, and privilege. I want to ask you what tenets of your faith- your thought process- were most altered in your work with the African/Afro-Latino systems, and in those early, nascent days of work, was there any part of yourself that had to be “immolated”?

Such total abandon is impossible – and I am not sure if it is even desirable to do so – I would advocate a great self-awareness in this case, to realize where you are coming from, what culture you are a product of and from this gain clarity in the same/other dichotomy exercised in your culture. I think if we erase a thinking of hierarchy in terms of better/worse evolved/primitive we enter a field of realized difference where we can enter a culture on its own premises aware of all the bias we bring to this culture by personal history, geography and cultural difference. In this regard and given my personal involvement uncritical cultural appropriation and mindless eclecticism annoys me as much as any other person that committed themselves to truly know and understand these faiths alien to the culture of ones upbringing. In my own case I never felt the occidental culture were particularly evolved, and certainly studying philosophy and anthropology do help one to see that the western  world with its primitive ideas of issues like punishment, crime and illness do not reflect a very advanced culture.

For me it came natural from an early age to focus on how all things were connected and so any culture or faith that aims towards reductionisms and simplification tended to annoy me. Hence with African faiths I found a philosophy and a way of thinking that resonated with my rebellious attitude towards formalism and reductionism. I of course had periods were I tried to conform to ideologies but I always ended up an enfant terrible when I tried to seek conformism. It follows that for me it was largely a homecoming, the arrival to a world view that made sense.

That’s very interesting, and no doubt an answer that will be met with a variety of responses, as the societal climate these days is to be extremely critical of anything that at all attempts to “appropriate” or use a facet of culture not intrinsically one’s own. Let us pay this extremely limiting way of thought no heed and continue to move forward boldly. In your personal work, is there a particular psycopompos figure that has guided you as the paths twist? When it comes to such a prevelent and permeating archetype, do you find syncresis from past spiritual work/systems important or dangerous when approaching a new one?

Oh, I am not advocating uncritical appropriation, I am just stating that an absolute veil free condition is not really a possibility, hence building awareness, respect and purpose as parts of a greater critical thinking becomes more viable, important and interesting.  But sure, let’s move on.

As for the psychopomomp, the go between and mediator in the crossroad of change I must point the finger and say ‘the devil’, this challenging force connected to destiny that we are confronted with at every moment of choice. This guardian of the crossroad of possibility, the lord of the silver key that has taken on a myriad of names, but the mystery is more profound than this as I believe the guardian of the crossroad and your inner daimon must be in resonance and in rapport for true guidance of the spirit host attached to make themselves heard and felt. Even if I can see commonalities between a given force in its different cultural expressions, this must be taken seriously as culture, geography, the legacy of a people informs a cult, deities and ideas in unique and powerful ways that we should respect.

Personally I make a distinction between synthesis and syncretism. Synthesis is a fusion caused by the ethereal, by spirit, it is about matters of resonance and bond moving in proximity with one another moved by magical laws and not imposed upon by shallow, uncritical syncretism based on subjective perception of similitude and difference.

This suppleness that your mentioning- a suggestion that through reasoning and contemplation, a more holistic look at magic and philosophy is possible- reminds me of a passage from your book, Craft Of The Untamed, with which you permission I will quote here-

“The witch is bound to no dogma. This makes them a threat to a Christianity established on doctrine. The witch insists everything in creation has its place. The church insisted on two contrary substances in God and the Devil. The witch strives for synthesis.”

From this point, I want to know your thought on the opposite end of the spectrum- away from synthesis. Many occult teachings, particularly those of the left hand path, have in recent years preached very austere, singular doctrines, which seem to adhere to one fixed set of laws, with little room for the wider, more chaotic approach you advocate. Can you speak to me about this a little?

I am not sure I understand the question completely, but if you are questioning the binary relationship of good and evil in relation to ‘the left hand path’ and its focus on self-becoming I have to say that this is in truth at the heart of the ideal of a ‘person becoming magic’. As we start out understanding the world we see it as a binary, night is different from day and so forth, but at some point the shades of grey should appear and reveal that a simple binary of our experience of the world is too simplistic. Nothing is just good or just evil, it depends on perspective, personal history and placement.  I wouldn’t say I endorse chaos, but I think it is vital to understand that nature is not as kind and predictable as we would like her to be. Hence I am more occupied with the complexities involved in the journey towards self-affirmation. And I must say that the older I get, the more experienced I get the wider the landscape tend to grow, but at the same time in this widening of the landscape it also gets more easy to see and realize yourself.

Perhaps the idea of the world inherited in tantric teachings is clarifying. In tantric sects the world is seen as a web that is ruled by dharma, a great cosmic law, in this web we are all subject to a personal dharma, our personal law, which I believe is revealed through astrology for instance, pointing out our potential and basic essence at birth, our blue print, that is acting within a wider web of possibilities. And I don’t see this in a static way; I see potential acted upon entering into a rhythm of repetition and difference. This translated into teachings and lessons and if we take these lessons we can also be more agile in the world.

The world appears less chaotic and with the increased awareness of the rhythm of the world we can enter into understanding and manipulation of these ‘laws’ and at the same time increase our self-awareness. For me the goal is to be the master of one’s own life, to be vibrantly self-aware, but I don’t think we can achieve this truthfully if we are too immersed in defining the other from the same, rather we need to look for how the web is constructed and what makes part where and how.

You recently announced a 5-day intensive initiatic workshop in to Quimbanda teachings in Brazil, which to the outsider reads as a very fascinating and curious thing. Is this your first time opening your experience in these subjects to the outsider? When did you decide you wanted to pass on your knowledge on the subjects?

We decided that it is better to train well a select few that witnessing all the mess people do due to lack of access. We have of course initiated and trained people in the past, but this is first time gathering a group in this way. So let’s see what comes from this. When it comes to living traditions, like Quimbanda, I have found people to be quite dogmatic and opinionated in defining the right way of doing things. For me that is to do religion, and I am not doing that. When it comes to living traditions, it be Quimbanda, Orisa, Ifá, Palo and so forth there are of course pillars and elements that must be observed, but taking care of the necessary factors we are left with a host of options with the aim of making what we do effective.

It has been two years since the release of “Ifa: A Forest Of Mystery”, and thusly likely enough time for you to get a sense of how the book has been received, not just in writing, but also in its great systemic and linguistic complexity (from the likely viewpoint of the majority of its readership). What are your takeaways in the time since launch, and how has the book been digested compared to the perhaps more (for lack of a better word) accessible and fluid nature of “Pomba Gira” and “Exu”?

This book is the book I am most content with actually. It is a book tying together the philosophy and theology found at the foundation of what constitutes a tradition to be alive. The book has been received with gratitude amongst practitioners, which was truly great to see. I mean, a ‘foreigner’ setting out to present a tradition as rich as Ifá in 400 pages would easily gone to a bad place, but it didn’t, it was a work of love and patience and it is reflected in the reception. So, contrary to Exu and Pomba Gira no voices of dissent have crossed me as far as I have seen at least, not that I really keep much track on what people say and mean about what I am doing thou.

I think by this point I have a little bit of an idea what influences and interests you from the sphere of psychology, spirit, and mythology, but could you enlighten myself and our readers as to what stokes your fire from the world of art? What painters, bands, musicians, and poets do you find yourself drawn to in recent months?

As you are posing this question I have Daniel Melingo on in the background, but with music I am quite diverse. I was brought up on Birthday Party, Psychic TV, Fields of Nephilim, Marc Almond, David Bowie, David Sylvian, Tuxedomoon and all these new wave and dark wave movements in music, currently I do listen to a lot of dark country and cabaret, but I also liked the latest album of The Nationals as much as Rhiannas Anti…. so I am more of a mood listener I think. In general I think music is denigrating lately, it is getting harder and harder to discover good music, like Rykarda Parasol and Chelsea Wolff, so I try to support artists like this so they can keep on making good music…

As for poets, Baudelaire and the Romantic Movement will always stand out, but so does Chares Bukowski, Sylvia Plath, Wanda Coleman and Rumi. Currently I am rereading Faulkner, and is simultaneously reading Livingstone’s book about Ingmar Bergman, Al-Alim’s Jinn Sorcery, Cotnoir’s Poetry of Matter and Leitão’s Biblioteca Valencia.

Why don’t we close with you telling us what is on the horizon for Nicholaj De Mattos Frisvold?

We, me and my wife, have plans of arranging more workshops, events and such like in our grange. This might also involve me returning to more therapeutic work. I still have a few books up my sleeve, but will try my hand on prose and novels again – after all poetry and novels was what I started out writing, so that will be nice, a return to storytelling.  But there is also another book with Scarlet Imprint on the horizon, which will be announced on the upcoming solstice…


FACEBOOK
SCARLET IMPRINT

 

Categories
Review

ULTRA SILVAM remain rabid amidst the explosively unexpected on “The Spearwound Salvation”

Editor’s note: Ultra Silvam is a band that we have kept a close eye on since their initial blistering demo took control of our lives for the better part of 2017. It is with great pleasure that we present this analysis of the frenetic full length. Submit thyself! Onwards … 

A three piece from Malmö, Sweden, Ultra Silvam was quickly recognized as a power trio after releasing their three track self-titled demo in 2017. Upcoming on March 22nd, the group will pull back the curtain and set loose a full-scale assault of authentic black metal. The Spearwound Salvation is twenty-seven and a half minutes of dynamic aggression; with tracks ranging from just short of two minutes up to six minutes, each embodying a controlled and deliberate intention with no filler to be found.

Speed is a defining feature on this release, as both drums and guitars drive a feral urgency and relentless pace. The song-writing disperses catchy hooks throughout and allows elaborate melodies to shine atop the dense core sound. Vocals embody an orthodox black metal rasp, at times commanding and at others anguished. The overall tone remains dark and direful, while still refraining from a descent into the melancholic or morose where black metal has tread ad infinitum before. Instead, the energy to be found here is imbued with diabolic triumph, a zealous call to action and a herald of certain victory.

Ödesalens Uppenbarelse features the only extended slow point, drawling listeners into a depth of pensive suspense- the eye of the storm amidst a labyrinthine chaos of sound. The Birth of a Mountain thematically dips and ascends before hooking into listeners with cascading leads in the latter half. As the shortest track, Förintelsens Andeväsen more than countervails by striking fast and hard with some of the catchiest guitar work of the album. Wings of Burial is a sinister storm of whirlwind riffs steeped in pagan influence, setting it apart from surrounding tracks. Well worth revisiting, A Skull Full of Stars has been plucked from their demo and reincarnated here in sharper focus, made complete by an ambient outro of moody tolling bells and an ominous, obscure crackle.

The cover artwork, much like the album, has a satisfying simplicity at first glance that belies a layered synthesis of elements. The silhouette of bat wings and inverted cross mark the lower points of an inverted star while the lit black flame betwixt twisting horns completes the top. At the centre, where the caprine face of this ubiquitous symbol usually lies, we instead find Ultra Silvam themselves.

A Spearwound Salvation represents a carefully executed and incendiary manifestation in which Ultra Silvam fully emerge as grand architects in their own style of raw, dynamic black metal.


SHADOW RECORDS  is proud to present ULTRA SILVAM’s striking debut album, The Spearwound Salvation, on CD, LP, and cassette tape formats.

FACEBOOK

Categories
Review

FUNEREAL PRESENCE resurrects an ancient diabolism with “Achatius”

The implements are assembled, an array of reactants that, to any but the alchemist, would seem too unstable or incompatible for integration into this grand scheme. But the alchemist can see it, how the pieces fit together, and solitary he slaves until the work is done, and what before might have seemed implausible now seems like something else entirely. Pure fucking gold.

The second full length by Funereal Presence, Achatius is a masterwork of malignant revelry that actively disregards the imaginary barriers of genre doctrine. Gleefully leaping from those frameworks into the chaotic maelstrom of pure inspiration, the result is an album that constantly surprises, dabbling in corners of heavy music in a way that is simultaneously familiar and wholly unique.

Bestial Devotion

Within the first minutes of “Wherein Achatius is Awakened and Called Upon”, the listener is both entranced and taken off guard as atmospheric wind instruments and gentle strings suddenly give way to a rampage of raw blasting drums, soaring keyboards, and a guitar more informed by 80’s thrash than any black metal progenitor. And while these elements are all quite familiar with each other through countless other bands, the solitary mastermind behind Funereal Presence, Bestial Devotion (drummer of Negative Plane), is able to evade accurate categorization. And while some might label Achatius as black thrash or raw black metal, it is all and none of these things. No label can account for the bizarre twists that each song takes along its expansive run time.

“Wherein a Messenger of the Devil Appears” kicks off with a cataclysmic riff that would easily be at home in Judas Priest’s Painkiller, but not even halfway into the same song, one finds themselves in the midst of a haunting landscape of mourning strings and hopeless wails. On a dime, sections of Bathory-esque primitivism rise into a NWOBHM majesty that shouldn’t work as well as they do, but for the explicit curation of elements from each style into the songwriting. In this way, a devious complexity lurks beneath the raw quality of Achatius, and even throughout such manic twists, there is a strange consistency in atmosphere and straight up catchiness that carries through the substantial lengths of tracks on the album.

Though the overall construct of Funereal Presence’s sound is a multifarious wonder, the building blocks are rooted in pure affection for the well known strains of heavy music. The likes of Darkthrone come to mind in their abandoning of the second wave sound they helped establish, venturing back into a more traditional heavy metal with later albums such as Arctic Thunder. But even that comparison is lacking in regards to Funereal Presence. Bestial Devotion lays down riff after riff of mutated virtuoso string work, as though dipping Iron Maiden in an acidic lathering of Hellhammer, and when matched with the primal drum work, there is a ramshackle element to it all, a feeling of slight danger that it might all fall apart at any moment. Needless to say, that moment does not come.

Other than calling it a modern masterpiece, Achatius is hard to describe. Much like in the psychological method of free association, in which a subject speaks or writes without restraint or censorship, Bestial Devotion does so, musically, in the many dialects of heavy music and beyond, giving the old a varnish of revitalization.


Recently unleashed on February 15th via THE AJNA OFFENSIVE for North America and SEPULCHRAL VOICE for all European territories.

BANDCAMP

Categories
Review

OSSUARIUM step into a pantheon of death metal’s old gods on “Living Tomb”

In a time where we are seeing the resurgence of true death metal, and the devil’s grasp tightens upon the earth, new albums in the genre are hitting with a swarm of the restless dead legions and must devour to succeed. What better way to quell the rest of the rotting than a living tomb? The album opens up with a devious riff indicative of the malicious nature of what’s to come, fully flourished with abhorrent pinch harmonics that stitch it together. What’s to come is an eerie clean lead, a trend that continues on this miserable journey, which turns one’s experience all the more black. This is met with the bass growling and the drums pounding the war chant of the spectres that once possessed Finland, all leading to an abrupt stop while your mind searches frantically to process the deluge of filth that is to come. Just as you start to get a second to think, Ossuarium blasts a blow to the back of your head with what I consider to be the masterpiece of the album, “Vomiting Black Death”.

As the first blackened doom riff crawls over a gradual drum beat that evolves into a steady blast, slowly you feel yourself grow nauseous, losing balance, sputtering and coughing, trying to hold back the viscous obsidian bile that seeps from your mouth. Disorienting clean leads clamber like a twisted dance, and with each passing second, you start to collapse more and more, giving into the unending biliousness until your mind can no longer take it and the acid that fills you pours out more feverishly. As the guitars increase velocity bit by bit, faster and faster you lose your insides, in what seems to be a never ending stream of vomit; Your thoughts race and can’t grasp your untimely demise. As the solo ends and the song reaches peak momentum, now nothing but a dried husk, your corpse floats upon the sea of viscera that you have emptied like the sable rivers of Charos where you shall continue to suffer in the bloodcurdling hallucinations of death.

“Corrosive Hallucinations” further traps you into a nightmare that cannot be escaped, by this time you’ve realized your gruesome fate. Ossuarium showcases the traditions of death while drenching them in an acid that rots it down into a festering soup. The song writing begins to shine as they mix emotionally complex melodies bathed in sulfur reminiscent of elder masterworks such as Gorement’s The Ending Quest. Not only does the album reek of necrosis, it contains the atmosphere of despair, the kind that can only be experienced by living on this putrid planet. “Writhing in Emptiness” beats you down with a assault of punky riffs, only to drag you by your hair into your most loathed memories with a heart wrenching lead, finishing you off with a nauseating guitar solo to feed the flames of hate and isolation. The following tracks follow the blood covered passage that has been set until you’ve reached “End of Life Dreams and Visions Part 2”, where a hypnotic riff pulls you into the end of your final moments of your existence. Total black over comes your vision and you are extinguished into the blank void.

Ossuarium demonstrates their mastery of the genre with seemingly endless influences grafted together with the torch that they carry. Each song bears riffs that blend American, Swedish, and Finish death metal, sutured together like a twisted surgeon by profound doomy leads and solos that leave you in a state of vertigo. Together these influences create a totally new abomination, thanks to the unique tone. Every grim detail is meticulously set in place, pushing Living Tomb beyond the writhing masses, wrapping up the whole package with an odorous miasma that instantly plagues you.


Exhumed and available through 20 Buck Spin on black and coloured vinyl, CD, and tape

BANDCAMP
FACEBOOK

Categories
Review

BLUE HUMMINGBIRD ON THE LEFT at last deliver a fierce war cry with “Atl Tlachinolli”

The time for sacrifice and conquest is at hand once more, and Huitzilopochtli demands blood to stave off the night eternal. Blue Hummingbird On The Left have answered the call in glorious fashion with their first ever full length proclamation of Aztec superiority in “Atl Tlachinolli”, an assembly of formidable black metal war cries, steeped in ancient Aztec mythology and reverence as only the Black Twilight Circle can provide.
With never a moment of lesser quality throughout a merciless nine song campaign, BHOTL manage to capture a varying spectrum of emotion and atmosphere, reflecting the aspects both elegant and primal about the ancestral Mexica culture. Seamlessly, the band grasp a style mainly associated with the frigid pagan reaches of Scandinavia, molding it to compliment the Aztec war party as it raises banners and terrorizes its enemies.

“Sun/War Club” opens to the sound of ominous tribal drums and haunting whistles, a recurring atmospheric tendency, and the prelude to the inevitable slaughter of Atl Tlachinolli as BHOTL burst into a hale of riffs and thundering hammer blasts, with the howled cries of Tenochitlan warriors emerging overtop the assault toward the end to freeze the blood. “Sun/War Club” serves as a perfect encapsulation of the whole of the album.

One of key points of distinction on Atl Tlachinolli are the vocals, which are imbued with an echo effect that endures for the entirety of the album. And while, in theory, such an approach might seem like a surefire route to annoyance or fatigue, the voice of BHOTL retains all power, as though making proclamations over vast distances with the voice of a living war god. The pace at which the vocals are spoken, too, seems to take into consideration the nature of the echoed effect, with lyrics all fittingly timed, so that they do not become an overlapping mess, maintaining the necessary gravitas when honoring the master of the sun in “Hail Huitzilopochtli”.

But looking past the peculiarities of cultural inspiration, like any Black Twilight Circle endeavor, the metal foundations of the music are just as steadfast and lethal. The riffs on “Rain Campaign” encompass an epic struggle of grand proportions. Tremolo strings cry out the tragic fall of unknown heroes and quaking charge of armies, capturing the expanse of a full on ancient military struggle lost in time. “Life Death Rebirth” strays more into a tooth gnashing death metal groove that is downright intoxicating.

Atl Tlachinolli will no doubt end up on many an end of year list. It is the channeling of the muse to its fullest, building on a sonic template that we know all too well. There is a genuine sense of pride and affection for ancient Aztec history that feeds into the songwriting, mutating the conventional into something wonderfully divergent and fresh sounding.

Blue Hummingbird On The Left (and in turn Black Twilight Circle) can be seen as, among other emerging bands, exemplary of how far extreme music has come, as well as what constitutes such a label. Extremity is more than simply how fast or brutal a band can be, but also where they go to for their sonic inspiration, and oft times one begets the other. In this information age and endless sea of uninspired rehash parading as ‘trve’, it is bands like BHOTL and an album like Atl Tlachinolli that remind us how genre restraints are only illusory.
Tremble in the wake of the Black Twilight!!!


IRON BONEHEAD PRODUCTIONS, in conspiracy with Nuclear War Now! Productions and Crepúsculo Negro, is proud to present BLUE HUMMINGBIRD ON THE LEFT’s long-awaited debut album, Atl Tlachinolli, on CD, vinyl LP, and cassette tape formats.

BANDCAMP

Categories
Interview

ARGONAVIS reveal themselves in the face of Death’s inexorable cycle

Cast your inward eye to the jagged peaks of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Sharp, cold, and snow-capped peaks reach upward for the sun and dominate all that sits below their grandeur. Far below these mountaintops lies a watery, chthonic world. Here is a place of vast caves, grottos dripping with moisture and hidden by impenetrable darkness.

The new Canadian group ARGONAVIS passes between these two worlds on their debut album “Passing the Igneous Maw.” Solidly built on a basis of death doom, Argonavis incorporates choral music, classical influences, and more to create an unexpectedly ambitious album. I spoke to the band’s anonymous main entity, for their first ever interview, presented here for your reading pleasure:

I’m going to break all my rules about avoiding this cliché question and begin the interview by asking about the band’s name, because I know it was chosen very intentionally and is a sort of lynchpin of the concept behind Passing the Igneous Maw. So, tell us, what is Argonavis?

Argo Navis was a constellation spanning the heavens visible to ancient astronomers of the Mediterranean. It was also known to Egyptians and certain tribal societies throughout history and prehistory. From the Mediterranean angle, it was understood to represent the ship Argo that carried Jason and the Argonauts of ancient Grecian lore on their journey to recover the Golden Fleece. Because of its vastness, modern astronomers deemed it too large to study empirically, and the formation was divided. The wheeling heavens have since turned and the celestial bodies which originally formed the constellation are longer visible to the modern eye. Merging the two words Argo and Navis to form Argonavis, we liked the archaic association; the phrase seemed thematically appropriate for a primitive doom project, while possessing phonetic appeal.

The album abounds with imagery from ancient Greek myth, and particularly elicits an air of the “journey to the underworld” and the self-transformation of the mystery schools. On the other hand we have references to regional geologic and other natural phenomena, seeming to place man as a tiny speck in the face of powerful natural forces. If these are thesis and antithesis, what is the resulting synthesis?

Passing The Igneous Maw

The central concept for Passing the Igneous Maw is death and regeneration. This primary thematic element comprises the duality between Katabasis, the descent, and Katharmos, its regenerative counterpart. Near the time when this release was conceptualized, I became transfixed with the historical uses of caves and moving water as liminal spaces and entryways for mortals to pass into Hell. From there, the motifs associated with Argonavis began to take concrete form. I visualized a sea vessel moving through an archway of fuming volcanic stone, traversing a subterranean world of death, and reemerging thereafter. I created the album artwork to reflect this imagery. In the painting, the ocean flows past rows of volcanic columnar basalt, like jagged rows of teeth, into the underworld. In the narrowing of the grotto’s maw, a river is formed. Fumes form upon the seawater’s contact with lava flows, becoming a boiling torrent of blood, the mythological, hellish Pyriphlegethon. This imagery is from the traveller’s perspective as they prepare to pass through the igneous maw on the pathway from doom to regeneration.

Wapta Falls (photo by Joan Mikkelsen)

With respect to geological elements aside from this volcanic imagery, the Canadian Rockies are close to my heart, and in their honour, I allude to specific areas such as Wapta Falls, The Fortress (a mountain located in Kananaskis), and local flora such as the wolfwillow or silverberry. Carving the Wapta Gorge was written in reverence towards rivers and glaciers slashing through mountainsides like silver blades—inexorable, and destructive forces beyond control. We brought these visions to life through our promotional photo shoot by Pagan Fires Photography, in a frozen river gorge in the Canadian Rockies.

The Fortress

To specifically answer your question, the final synthesis occurs when all aforementioned constituents merge into one continuous, multifaceted cycle of death and regeneration. Reverence toward the unstoppable forces of death and entropy and the restoration which follows is the common thematic thread throughout a conceptually chaotic tapestry.

So is this cycle one that is to be understood and rejoiced in through all its peaks and valleys? Or is the goal towards liberation from this endless Samsara as the Buddha and the path of the ascetic would have it?

Samsara refers to a cyclical process of death, reorganization of matter, and reincarnation of energy into different life forms. It’s interesting that you bring this up, since it precisely summarizes what I am referring to in terms of death and regeneration, and how they may symbolically manifest in personal development throughout a lifetime.  However, I talk about this more in terms of thermodynamics; entropy is constantly forcing all organization of matter into a state of decay and equilibrium. Life strains against this process, and requires tremendous energy input to maintain organization. For instance:

It tipped weighty totality, it disturbed the quintessential, entropic balance between vitality and demise to release the mountain’s destructive potential.

In this lyrical passage, I visualized the natural force of gravity leveling mountains and razing various life forms after millennia of resistance. However, the mountain is not entirely destroyed, the stones are not obliterated into nothingness, but its matter is reorganized into a different physical form…

As you recognized before, the album places humankind as an insignificant speck in face of natural forces. We are in no position to be assigning value judgements to natural processes. The many peaks and valleys which are savored and suffered are discovered and accepted as a necessary part of development in any of life’s domains; emotionally, artistically, professionally, psychologically, and interpersonally. To be clear, this is not a nihilistic sentiment; it is recognition that the process towards self-actualization is filled with many shattering moments. It is a summary of our belief that it is better to face those moments and develop resiliency and insight with each turn of the cycle, rather than becoming apathetic or blindly hedonic in face of inevitable suffering.

The descent into the underworld is a theme that is repeated over and over in myths of Indo-European origin (and likely many others I am not aware of). It always seems to have a goal of some kind, most often resurrection. Odin and Baldur, Hercules and Theseus, the stories of the Irish Echtras, Lemminkäinen and his mother, all the way back to Gilgamesh and Enkidu. As someone who’s engaged with these themes I’m curious as to your opinion on what is actually being sought after on these underworld journeys. A missing piece of ourselves perhaps? Curious that in all these stories, what is found and brought back is never quite the same as it was before…

In these stories, the characters descend into the underworld to defy death, or to seek resurrection as you mentioned. For instance, Gilgamesh journeys to the underworld to pursue immortality after witnessing the inglorious death of Enkidu, forcing him to confront and grow to fear his own impermanence. Unlike Gilgamesh’s approach, my intention for this theme is that the underworld and death are not actively sought out in a conquest to defeat the cycle of decay and regeneration. Instead, discovery of the passage to the underworld occurs however and whenever it may. Regardless of our conquests and intentions, we will come face to face with death and demise before emerging, having gained insight from this encounter. This developmental cycle is acknowledged as inexorable and eternal—respect toward its majesty and might is paid where it is owed.

Interestingly, despite their best efforts, the heroes’ efforts to defeat death failed. For example, after being denied immortality in his journey to the underworld, a serpent steals the plant that would restore Gilgamesh’s youth, ruining his final hope of halting death and decay’s encroachment. Gilgamesh finds that as a mortal he was ill positioned to reroute predestination with death as the inevitable outcome to begin with.

Within the duality of decay and regeneration, katabasis and katharmos are both necessary for continuous self-actualization. Defeating the cycle would disrupt its processes. Through avoiding the descent to the depths of suffering, we would likewise impede the subsequent ascension, stunting our development. In all instances, mythological or lyrical, the final revelation is that the descent to the underworld is not really about overcoming death, it is about the return to life.

I can hear many of the dualities discussed above presented in the music. We hear the punishing death/doom punctuated by operatic choral vocals, pianos and flutes. You’ve really managed to avoid one of the major pitfalls of the genre, that being lack of dynamics. I often find many death/doom or funeral doom albums sound like a few songs that are long for the sake of being long and the end result often doesn’t sound like a cohesively structured album. Passing the Igneous Maw certainly does NOT have that problem. I’m curious if that was consciously approached? Take us through some of the recording process, if you could. I know the album was recorded over a long period.

Thank you for the compliment, I’m glad this release can be recognized as dynamic, though it is still undoubtedly a patient listen. Passing the Igneous Maw was an organic entity, gradually taking place over time—the project was a living beast which proved to have a mind of its own. At first, I began writing riffs with the intended final outcome being a short, primitive doom/death demo. Argonavis’ second member joined, and as we developed the compositions together, it became clear that the amount of material would be better suited to a full length. From the backbone of conventional doom/death instrumentation, the songs were fleshed out with synth, trumpets, and choral vocal harmonies. These additional instruments were essential in the composition of the neoclassical tracks. Everything was recorded at home or in a small storage shed dead center of a field in the remote Gulf Islands. Samples were gathered from the Gulf Island’s grottos, coves, and marinas. All elements were spliced together before being mixed and mastered by the second member. Adding small details could be compared to splashing vibrant crimson onto an otherwise bleak canvas. Most of the albums that I have grown most attached to are dynamic. I have found that unexpected textures contribute to the impact, beauty, and enduring listenability of a release.

Through the process outlined above, we stumbled across our sound through trial and error. For subsequent releases, we begin with a clear vision which will guide the writing and refine the performance from the start, which I hope will further enhance cohesiveness.

I’m always happy to hear from other artists who appreciate obscure sampling and field recordings… often I find they contain a ton of significance to the artist themselves which is usually hidden to other listeners, like a sigil hidden and forgotten after its creation in order to make an impression on the unconscious mind. I think their whole becomes more than the sum of their parts in a mysterious, intangible way. Any thoughts on this hidden element in art?

I wholeheartedly agree. I have found that when my work is internally-driven, it is propelled by the greatest creative and emotional forces, and is more gratifying. I hope that in using raw, personally significant elements, the emotional resonance of the album is not lost through transmission between us as creators and the audience.  

The narrative of the album outlines a series of personal experiences of adversity and victory. I use the cultural tradition of storytelling through allegory and archetype as a method of obscuring and guarding the highly personal nature of the lyrical content. In this sense, the album overflows with hidden elements. This could be thought of as a tribute to the usage of the same devices by the aforementioned mystery/alchemic schools and hermetic scripts. Wordplay and symbolism were commonly used in a chaotic system of references and codes:

“wherever we have spoken openly we have said nothing, but where we have written something in code and in pictures we have concealed the truth” (Rosarium philosophorum).

For instance, the image of the serpent has been evolutionarily coded into our collective unconsciousness as a common enemy of mankind, appearing as a malevolent archetype across history and cultures (you can check out the Theory of Preparedness from evolutionary psychology for more on this, it’s interesting and relevant to this idea). The serpent, specifically Rerek…the serpent fiend of Egyptian and Templar tradition, is allegorically referenced within the lyrics of Blazing Torrent to signify a common enemy of mankind, but also to signify a destructive adversary of my own. I truly believe that the inclusion of hidden elements in any work enriches the final product, and it is a device that I will always use.

I hope this has served the readers as a good introduction to some of the driving force behind the mysterious entity known as Argonavis… I will leave any last words with you and thank you for your insightful answers.

Thank you for the opportunity to recount and dissect some of the thought processes that went into this album. The interview was my privilege!


All band photography courtesy of Pagan Fires Photography.

BANDCAMP
FACEBOOK