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Review

LINGUA IGNOTA fuses the sacred & profane into a tragic statement of triumph with “Caligula”

Ask the average music listener to define “heavy”. Perhaps chugging riffs, breakneck speed, grotesque and offensive lyrics gurgled through a phlegm lined throat that seems to only despise and hate? Yes, that is heavy. To those of us who live for this kind of music, it can be intoxicating, and we consume it with greater and greater ease, because we have become accustomed to this shade of heavy. However, this is only one interpretation of a word with a plethora of faces. That fact is made blatantly clear having experienced the raw horror of Lingua Ignota’s brand new full length, Caligula, which weaponizes a damaged spirit into something truly bestial. It is an unleashed heaviness rarely achieved, finally free from all boundary and constraint.

The musical shadow of Kristin Hayter, Lingua Ignota (latin for Unknown Language), defies absolute classification by genre, instead reaching far and wide through remote styles, founded on a bedrock of genuine rage borne out of Hayter’s experiences of domestic abuse in her own life. Juxtaposing the serene majesty of classical piano and orchestration with its overt antithesis in power electronics and primal chaos, a bizarre tension results, unfamiliar and incredibly dangerous.

The gentle stirring of the opener, “Faithful Servant Of Christ” serves as portents for what Caligula holds in its black heart. A symphonic assembly suddenly morphs into a brooding shadow, given life in Hayter’s ascending voice, which intones assuredly, as though from on high. All the while lingers an ominous presence, seeding discomfort and anxious anticipation for what is to come.

As the title of the song suggests, in Lingua Ignota, Kristin continues to weave her art using fragments of religious imagery and themes from Catholicism, as well as sonically channeling a canonist, sacred atmosphere in many places. While Hayter uses these topics as ways to parallel her own ideas or stand as metaphors, the nature of such a religious institution, especially in our current society, offers that perfect fusion of glorious/vile that is given life in a song like “Butcher Of The World”. Ethereal organ pipes cast golden rays in the mind’s eye, only so that those rays might illuminate the depraved bloodlust waiting close at hand in Hayter’s startling delivery of venomous shrieks. But what at first conflicts with the booming organ pipes is soon embraced, propped up in a display of holy wrath, until abaying, letting Hayter’s softer face shine through in the aftermath, becoming sublimely quiet in the wake of that earlier punishment.

It is clear that, with every track making up Caligula, Hayter is not merely gunning for a single effect. We are pulled along an emotional gauntlet in the course of every single song. Much of Caligula’s impact lies in the brilliant contradiction between form and content, specifically in the way of lyrics against their backdrop of instrumentation. For instance, “May Your Failure Be Your Noose” opens to the touch of serene piano, over which, Hayter sings, “Who will love you if I don’t? Who will fuck you if I won’t?” Thereby, what was first comforting is made crooked and displaced, like cracked glass. Vexingly, this strategy bears more weight than if the words were matched in equally dark sounds. This union of opposites has long been played to great effect in film, too. Kubrick’s, “A Clockwork Orange”, for example, sees a woman is defiled to the chorus of “Dancing In The Rain”.

Having come from a background of classical music training, that Hayter has diverged from a more conservative path and into the underground of power electronics, industrial, and overall harsh music seems to be a vital component, and in Lingua Ignota’s undeniable individuality. Hayter’s already striking compositions are elevated by her confidence and prowess as a vocalist, which explores a seemingly unfettered range. Between the barebones beauty of “Fragrant Is My Many Flowered Crown”, in which Hayter’s voice twists and leaps in the way of an acrobat, or the daemoniac hell of “Day Of Tears And Mourning”, it would seem as though several vocalists were at work.

Placed alongside the great majority of death or black metal vocal performances, Kristin wins out simply in her channeling of unbridled feeling. When she screams or wails operatically, it hurts us somewhere others don’t. When Kristin assures us that, “no shadow will darken your door like mine will”, we believe her without doubt, disturbed more than what any gratuitous gore porn spectacle could instill.

Lingua Ignota tackles much the same tone and thematic elements as swathes of extreme metal bands, though still it achieves a spectacle that few could ever achieve. Horror, rage, violence: all par for the course, but few can attest to a personal relationship with them like Kristin Hayter can. It’s her own relationship with these themes, and her grounding them in a sense of reality that allows her to penetrate to a deeper place of dread and frustration. Paired with her masterful hand as a composer, Caligula is a towering spectacle of human spirit under duress. As with All Bitches Die, before, Kristin Hayter reminds us that to be ‘heavy’ is not at all bound to tremolo picking, blast beats, and shocking stage antics, but can be harnessed by a painful vulnerability just as well.


CALIGULA the new album from LINGUA IGNOTA was released into the wild on CD/2xLP/Digital through Profound Lore Records

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Interview Premiere

ANTICHRIST SIEGE MACHINE deliver a blasphemous call to arms with debut new track “Prime Mover” & exclusive interview

True to their name, Virginia black/death duo Antichrist Siege Machine has been carrying out iconoclastic raids upon the metal underground since their 2016 inception. Following several successful campaigns throughout the United States, their 2016 demo, EP Morbid Triumph, and last years Promo MMXVIII, they are now poised to unleash their debut full length album Schism Perpetration. The coming onslaught is due on LP by Stygian Black Hand and CD by Krucyator Production on August 24th.

Today Covenant premieres “Prime Mover” from the aforementioned Schism Perpetration – an album that sees the band exceed previous outputs with a more developed execution and sound, enhancing upon the barbarity of their formative releases.

From their foundation, there has been a singular purpose to Antichrist Siege Machine’s blunt force approach to music. We talk to drummer/vocalist SB about Antichrist Siege Machine’s past, their imminent album, and future strategems.


“ASM has been a project I wanted to form for many years but could not find a like-minded musician to write with. Z moved to Richmond and we immediately started working. We both wanted to create a sound channeling our influences and to bring an aggression not seen as often with modern acts,” states SB.

In addition to seminal bands in multiple destructive genres, he cites witnessing the destruction of surrounding natural resources, a scorn for religion, and the onset of wars as influences. Whilst many of the topics are not limited to specific events and instead focus on the phenomenon, ideas, and principles, they do draw from personal experience and observation. “As far as music influences, we draw from classic death metal, hardcore punk, and industrial music,” he continues. “We revere the progenitors of this genre: Conqueror, Archgoat, Proclamation, and others. For non-musical influences, I draw inspiration from atrocities committed by the Christian church and the onset of war. I work in land conservation and pull many themes from the carnage I see across Appalachia being perpetrated by monopolized power companies.”

Much of ASM’s material wrestles with ideas versus the recounting of specific periods in time. While something could have happened in 1138, it could also occur in 2020 because the mindset is still there. “As for me saying, ‘onset of wars’ I am referring to the moment or spark in which the flames of aggression burn. That moment is what I seek to draw attention to; not the following violence and not the carnage left over, but the catalyst that triggers the action,” SB states. “I can only draw from my personal experiences for ASM and those are somewhat unique at least among those I’ve encountered in aggressive music. Being raised in a highly sheltered environment sowed the seeds of dissension and rebellion much deeper than those of my peers. I grew to loathe the church and all its co-conspirators. ASM has given me a voice to criticize and blaspheme these crimes against humanity. Abuse is something many are forced to reckon with and I challenge the victims to viciously attack their abusers without mercy.”

Their lyrics draw from the themes mentioned with the execution of the music further sustained with inner conflict, aggression and scorn. “The driving forces behind ASM are warfare against Christianity and the triumph of secular will. Lyrics have taken on a deeper meaning as we have progressed. Initially, the drum parts dictated what the vocals would be as I wrote the words to fit within specific parameters,” he clarifies. “The band has refined this process through each release with growing importance, in itself creating the driving force behind the band.” SB also adds that, “now, ASM’s lyrics reflect much of my own inner conflict and aggression.”

Wielding aggression seems to function as an essential tool in ASM’s creative process. “Aggression is absolutely mandatory for ASM songs. We cannot create without it. Writing these songs requires being in a specific state of mind and if both of us are not there, we cannot work on the band.” Cultivating the mind-set to compose, so to speak. SB proclaims that, “it involves isolation and peace to channel it. Physical fitness is a big part of this band. In order to even be able to perform these songs live, I’ve had to adjust my own breathing habits while drumming and learn new techniques. Cardio is paramount.”

It doesn’t take long for SB to elucidate where exactly this eternal source of fury generates. “Through my work, I witness a lot of tragic sights regarding deforestation and destruction of open-space for human defilement. It is difficult to not become enraged at what this part of the country is undergoing.”

Being a two piece has benefited the band with forging their sound, the creative process, and playing live with minimal disadvantages. From this approach they are able to retain control over the vision without compromise, with an agreed singular purpose and organic writing process – further aiding their productivity. Reflecting upon this arrangement SB adds, “to us, the advantages greatly outweigh the limitations. We precisely target the sound ASM requires. Our writing process is fluid. The difficult part is that we are both involved in many other projects and unfortunately cannot practice very often.”

“Many of our songs have been written from the drums,” he mentions. “Z writes proper [stringed] parts to convey the violence inherent in the drumming. The rest of our songs are the result of collaborative efforts. When writing together we typically will create 15-20 minutes of chaos. The songs make themselves apparent and we split them into cohesive attacks.” In terms of taking this hellish sound to the live arena, he clarifies that, “ASM did not begin as an entity that would play live. It was after the large interest garnered with the 2016 demo that we decided to attempt to play the songs live. It took a little while for my body to adjust to drumming and singing, but now it is somewhat second nature. As far as future ambitions, we would like to continue to tour when able to and visit as many countries outside the United States as we can.”

Antichrist Siege Machine’s first album will be out very shortly, and clocking in at 29 minutes of raw barbaric black/death, it is a purposefully concise salvo. During the writing and recording process for Schism Perpetration, the importance of being selective with their material was paramount. “We felt we were able to convey our intention within that span of time. As far as future records are concerned, it will depend on the way we write the material. Much of Schism Perpetration was written in a short time and when we both feel inspired; we try to write as much as we can. We reject much more than we accept as far as songs go. They will be reworked many times before being performed live as ASM has a distinct sound. If a song sounds good to us but does not fit within ASM’s other material, it is often scrapped.”

Our writing process was somewhat protracted because our schedules didn’t permit us to meet as much as we had been able to,” SB recalls. A move that actually could have been a blessing in disguise, allowing the visionary to further delve into the topical inspiration for this release. “Since this album took much longer, much more time was spent constructing the message for Schism Perpetration,” he reveals. “I had the album title in my head two years ago. It came to me when studying the split within the Christian church in the 11th century. Much of the themes of this record have to do with spreading blasphemy and invoking righteous violence for one’s beliefs.

The album was once again recorded with the band’s trusted ally BQ, responsible for harnessing the Antichrist Siege Machine sound thus far. “He recorded Morbid Triumph and our 2018 promo tape. I have worked with him for many years and he understands what ASM is communicating. ZLAL of Heavy Breathing and Predation fame has also been a collaborator on every effort following our demo. He brings a vast knowledge of analog sound equipment and enables us to recreate the aggression of our live performances for the recorded tracks.”

The topic of spiritual zealotry is recurrent through history and as the band alluded to previously, but it is not limited to a specific time or historical circumstance. “Religious extremism is still driving much of the conflict seen in the world. Especially in the Middle East, we know that this violence will not cease in our lifetimes,” he deftly admits. With the growth of secularism within society, we’re genuinely curious if the phenomenon would cease or whether it is inherent to human nature, likely to be supplemented by a whole new beast of delusion. “America has been moving in a secular direction but people are still looking for ideologies to force upon others. I think religion will always be there. It may not be what we call ‘religion’ today, but, throughout time, it has proven to be a shapeshifter used by influential people to dominate the weak-minded. Some need to cling to religion for perceived salvation. Others need an entity to eternally wage warfare against. The duality of these things is what ASM seeks to identify. Without darkness there is no light.”

“I am apocalyptic despair and Utopian hope. I am you, therefore I kill”


Upcoming Shows: 
8/24 Richmond, VA record release show at Wonderland with Abysmal Lord and Vimur  
—–Tour with Bog Body—– 
8/25 Atlanta, GA at 529  
8/26 Gainesville, FL at Durty Nelly’s 
8/27 Charleston, SC at Big Gun 
8/28 Raleigh, NC at The Maywood 
————————————- 
8/30 New York, NY at Union Pool with Impure, Ordeals, and Bog Body

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Festival Review

COVENANT FESTIVAL V RETROSPECTIVE: Congregation of Timeless Deathcraft

You see them. Your people. A few on the bus, all exit at the same stop, start the walk up the hill. Hoodies with patches adorned, the tell-tale scrawl hieroglyphics of black and death metal bands. Long, long hair. That calm yet commanding demeanour of metalheads and those of similar ilk. Feels like a pilgrimage. It is. But there is nothing holy here; I am no virginal disciple. I am a heap of rotten flesh stuffed into a young body-bag, flailing frantically to find the zipper and release the truth of what I am: putrefact. This gathering is the hand that reaches around, finds the pull and undoes the row of meeting teeth that hold you together. Welcome to your wretched undoing. Welcome to Covenant.


COVENANT V – NIGHT 1

The moment I walk in, I can’t stop smiling. Perfection chants in my head. This is perfection. A long rectangular hall, stage at the far end. A woman stands on stage, screaming. Not hysteria but perfect control. A focused scream. Perfection. The hall is gymnasium style, flashbacks of grade seven dances certainly tenable. But that is utterly forgotten. Smoke floods the space, ghosts of incense commemorate the evening. Everyone draped in black, a band shirt plethora, the visual currency of outcastery. There are generations here: some white beards dyed only by decades, some soft faces newly escaped from the Mordor of adolescence. Whatever it is that births people like us, the millenial age and the tech revolution have not destroyed it.

Vendors line the hall, lamps shining onto the desecrated objects for sale, be it esoterica or band merch. In this unworldly marketplace I feel as much awe as I have at the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, or the crowded markets of rural Kerala. I have taken the bus 20 minutes but may as well be abroad, and surely there are stranger objects here: animal skulls, books on alchemy and dark magick, human ribs and vertebrae. You forget it’s a warm summer evening in an expensive city populated by hipsters and rich yoga moms. In this relaxed air, people are at home. We cannot separate the sameness of opposites. In sacrilege we find the sacred. Pilgrimage indeed. Whether you know it or not, you yearn for this.

The vocalist on stage keeps screaming, the accompanying keyboardist devout. They have ended my enshacklement to the tedium of the everyday. I surrender to the Truth of Howl. Oh to hear a woman scream. I mean this with affection for her sacrifice, not sadism for her agony. She screams on my behalf. The vibration is intense, my neck shakes, and is sliced. Ah, she screams. We share an aural umbilical cord and she’s voicing all my horrors. The beautiful smell of smoke, the candelabra on stage aside the singer glowing, ah. Eventually, her voice becomes operatic. The lyrics love is disillusion singe the air. My throat is tight. A synth organ sounds. This music wouldn’t be out of place in a cathedral. Isn’t that the Wise Hall tonight? Cathedral Damnation. The Covenant flag hangs humble behind the performers. How is it one feels so at home amid terror and darkness than pop melodies and sunshine? The Mother Tongue of so many strangers: screams.
*
They finish. I make my way to the washrooms. I worry my festival bracelet absorbs a drop of piss as I pat myself dry. Well, Hail Satan. I open the door quickly, surprising a beautiful bald woman, face luminous as a full moon, she smiles in surprise. The smile of this she-devil is glorious.

A new act. This is seduction. This is a lovers tongue entering your dark rose-wet cave. Yes my friends, music can feel like this. They collectively caress that clitoral audience before them, rhythmic bodies shaking with the songs they have necromanced. The ground reverberates beneath me. Another feeling emerges, one of pride. I look upon these creatures, grown men, so committed to their craft, smiths forging gold from their own turbulent viscera. I am swept away on the wings of these dragons, I am riding through the sky. Cerulean world abounds, coniferous forest beneath.
*
Someone throws a can into the bin beside me. He walks over to check that it didn’t ricochet onto the ground. I am touched. Who says social degenerates aren’t considerate? I look across the crowd, faces entranced, death disciples receiving condemned communion. Brilliance.

The difference between listening to metal live versus recorded is perhaps a greater gulf than any other genre of music. It is a corporeal genre. Feel. Feel. To know you are real requires being physically moved. This is why abuse is often preferable to solitude. Here, instead of harm, instead of drawing blood, it is kept inside and rumbled with sonic waves. I press my body against the stage. The drums play me.
*
I blink. It is late. I work in the morning. I am back in the world, the fluorescent lighting of a city bus guiding my eyes around the normalcy. Someone yells out the window at a pedestrian. A hunched over man in a camouflage bomber jacket eats Doritos out of the bag. He has worn out Coach running shoes that scream stolen. The world where I return.
*
COVENANT V – NIGHT 2

Before the music, people chat, shop the market. Yet many stand facing the stage, just waiting. Such obedience in such a defiant culture. In the end, I suppose it’s just choose your altar. A woman paints on a canvas propped on the stage as a band plays. An eye? A volcano? The minutes upcoming will tell. (Isn’t that all Time does: tell?) Performers are blindfolded with black gauze/mesh. Though the painting has evolved, the surroundings could be lashes or shrubbery. It is an eye or a mountain? Mountains, the earth gazing upwards to the stars. Are mountains not the eyes of the world? (Am I really this pretentious?)
*
I step outside for fresh air and remnants of light. The walk up to the Wise Hall is one of my favourite parts. Apt that it is atop a hill, the urban coven a little removed from busling hippie streets of this neighbourhood. At the park a block down, children and parents play. It is strange to think of childhood, a time before the life that mutilated me. Run, sweet gremlins, run now in your gleeful play, laugh and be free, because one day this ends. Lifes’ fire will disfigure you. And maybe then, they will join us, will they play on the Wise Hall stage at Covenant XVI? I end my demented musings and head back up the hill, the sky turning amethyst. “He puked on the painting.” someone says, walking out of the hall. Eye or mountain, I will never know.

The night gets going with the second act. Killer drums is the first thing you notice. Pearl kit, a cinderblock affront the main drum. I feel the tormented corpse in me awaken, this dancer on coals, she moves through me and I am ignited. The inner realm is vast and though our own, always needs initiation from an external summoning. Only the stage holds to magic to unblock my dark channels. Beside me, an ocean of delicate, appreciative head nods, quite different than headbanging.

These are sorcerers admiring skilled incantation. The guitarist plants his feet flat, he does not move or shuffle around. Absorbing power through rooting himself to the altar. The guitar ceases to be separate from the musician, and he sings with his hand and metallic vocal chords. He has a face-mouth and a hand-mouth. The incense begins to burn. Covenant V is getting closer to its zenith.
*
Summoning ancestors, ancient tongues. What a gift. A group which summoned itself back from near disappearance. Communion with the audience, inviting, sharing, feeding us hungry souls the spoils of their tilled and stolen soil. Audience yells “time for another album.” Everyone basks in affection.

Again, smiths at the forge, male bodies electric. Violent, tantric, you are with devil spirit. They come from caves with armies, soldiers rhythmic assault. War and orgy. A mucosal feeling in the crowd, in that we are brought together in some mordial ooze. There is fucking inside your heart, your heart pounded upon by phallus of collective creation. Somehow, you feel hands caress your face. The chest cavity shakes. Then the ground like a death rattle. If this is death, let me transcend. Sweat soaking their hair, the scent fills the hall, merges with incense.

I move from the front to the centre of the crowd. They look calm yet possessed. Ascended disciples. Darkness enshrouds each player, emitting not light, but something as visible and entrancing.
*
There is something undeniably tender in all this. Family coming home.
*
I am beheaded over and over again, my body command a head grow in order to enjoy the honour of decapitation. Suddenly the sensation transforms: now swords push through my neck and body, I am kept in tact, but spliced from many angles. To be stabbed again and again, yes, we can enjoy pleasures of the flesh without the physical harm – only metaphysical harm. But it is not harm. How can destruction make you feel whole?

The clink/chime of cymbals are as though pins pushed into you, perfect sharpness. Nothing is blunt, mutilation is perfection. Easy peasy. Pins. Voices are duct tape over your eyes and mouth. The relief from the senses! Instead, only shock. The shock of experiencing the bellowing bowels of another. Rollercoaster of intestines. We become shit and are grateful, because it is greater than the singular quotidian bodies we regularly are.

The shock of being saved when you didn’t expect it, it didn’t realize you needed it. Projections, cloaks, green, camo, where am I? Where are they? Like being launched into space, and through suffocation, a part of you breathes for the first time.
*

COVENANT V – NIGHT III

Tonight is different. The creature has emerged from the mucus fully formed, like Saurons’ Uruk Hai, ready to be harvested and summoned. But we are not warriors organizing ourselves for battle. Mundane daily life is the battle. This is congregating after the fact to honour the sacrifice and celebrate the spoils. Less and less, this feels demonic. Or my flimsy idea of what demonic is no longer serves. Such comfort among the citizens of this underworld. The benefits of a small city, a small scene, but also I think a universal understanding exists in metal and underground: the genres are universal orphanages. We know each other.

The long slow rousing drum, vibrations lull you, walking, wading into still water. We stand and dark liquid envelopes us. Body temperature, you can barely tell that you’re surrounded. I wish I could be set afloat on this strange river, the birthplace I never knew I had.
*
Discoballs, chandeliers, fernels. String lights.

Young women ponder buying human bones. I fear such an investment myself, who knows whose they were, how they died. I do not need a vertebrae or jaw at home resenting me. My own flesh bears enough hatred.

Backstage. I have never seen drummers warm-up. It’s a beautiful thing. A large bald man in a wife beater closes his eyes and drums in the air. Later I see him with a small drum pad. He is serene, the focus of a child, the focus of a master. The champion shadow boxing before the bout. This is human worship at its finest.
*
Oh, backstage is backstage. Theatre or music, high school or professional, it’s the same. My heart explodes. Chatter, anxiety, flirting, chips, mismatched tables and cabinets, an old piano, stacks of chairs, coats and bags flung around, an ocean of instruments, half-empty cans, a mini fridge, dressing mirrors, always the same.

This abrasive music has the comfort of a warm bed and soft sheets. Why does it feel like love?
*
They are a crucifix for us upon which to nail our horrors. Thank you.
*
Appreciation. Flawlessness. The cervical vetebrae of the hall undulating like a pendulum. Megalith of sound. Genuine cadence, the architecture of velocity, rage, and chaos, all these elements compliment by discerning choice. Dew of morning.

Backstage. Surprising absence of coffee, a few takeout cups on the table. They emit their beautiful scent, couvetted elixir brought forth from scalding water and crushed powder of earth pods. Is this not art, not music, the scalding passage of time extracting from us something bitter yet valuable? I scan the green room. Some organizers take a well earned selfie. The room itself is nearly empty. Beyond the wall, the ceremony endures. Sagging leather couches, bottles, cans, chips, amps, guitars that have travelled the world, tables pushed to one side. Backstage is backstage.

Near the end, I am overcome with sadness. Dead Congregation instills the lifeforce with stamina, whereas each day in the office, on the train, in the true dead congregation of society at large, we must endure our corpse laiden lives. Bursts of death-life of black metal amid quotidian decay. I must wait another year to breathe. The ultimate mediation.

Yet sadness is given comfort in knowing I can keep this moment inside of me, the sealed sarcophagus of Covenant, until again revived. This is beyond a good memory. I can hold the very thing itself precious and dear.
*
Applause, smoke, the peeling away of the event at large. All I am left with: gratitude.


Observed, written, and wordcrafted by Indu Iyer – Homepage | Instagram
All photography by Chelsea Mandziuk – Homepage | Instagram 

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Premiere

SATURN’S CROSS returns with lo-fi, noir video for “It Has Begun Again”

Covenant inner-circle dark synth act Saturn’s Cross returns after months of silence with a video for the opening track of 2018’s This Is Going To End In Blood. 

Directed by Max Montesi, the flickering, dark video clip features an extension of the shadowy deals, devious encounters, and urban decay that haunt the Saturn’s Cross egregore. A frightening aura of something undoubtedly malign, but hiding in plain sight. Perhaps even alluring …

Released in October with no warning or indication if its coming, This Is Going To End In Blood blends a 80’s synth sensibility with a strong futuristic darkwave feel, enhanced with a contemporary dark R&B production style. The album is available on Saturn’s Cross bandcamp or digitally through Covenant Records.


Directed, edited, and produced by Max Montesi. Staring: Chelsea Black, Culain, and Saturn’s Cross

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Review

DRAB MAJESTY stares longingly into the abyss through the non-terrestrial “Modern Mirror”

Whatever extra dimensional fountain of inspiration that the electric duo of Deb Demure and Mona D are tapped into, it has yet to fail them, and only continues to raise them at a steep incline of already stellar quality. The latest transmission from the glittering, tear streaked ethereal comes in the form of Drab Majesty’s third full length, Modern Mirror, and sees the two piece wielding paradox and contradiction in the way of emotion and technical skill with a stunning elegance.

Much like the visual personas that Drab Majesty inhabit in their live show and album covers, each subsequent record displays a notable evolution in their abilities as a band, constantly growing, but never losing touch with that same core of tragic longing that birthed it in the first place. This change is likely in large part due to the gradual embrace of Mona D into the mix, as Drab Majesty was initially the solo work of Deb alone. From simply a live player, Mona D has come to take a key role in the band’s DNA, even taking the vocal helm on the single, “Oxytocine”, which is a serious contender for strongest song on an album that is barren of filler.

Modern Mirror feels simultaneously so different from its predecessor, The Demonstration, while still retaining the uncanny power that has come to define Drab Majesty’s sound. Deb’s guitar work is as airy and intangible as ever, weaving gradually, deceptively complex compositions, made somehow more intensely emotive when interlaced with the groove laden drum machine and synths as light as snow.

There has always been a heavy presence of 80’s goth and pop in Drab Majesty’s music, but as with any other genre the band play with, somehow they have always been able to constantly roam in the blurred thresholds between, remaining never quite definable. However, Modern Mirror draws more rock into its primarily pop atmosphere in a song like “The Other Side”, which retains echoes of something closer to Duran Duran’s, “Hungry Like The Wolf”; but just when that comparison comes into consideration, it is lost just as quick, washed over by Drab Majesty’s own, unrelenting personality.

“Noise Of The Void” inhabits its own namesake, presenting a nebulous pocket universe, in which the listener is made weightless in a sea of crystalline synth that cuts gently into the heart with its air of intoxicating sadness. “Dolls In The Dark” follows suit, and offers a slight contrast in its more hopeful, upbeat tone, but even then, there is a sense of acute sorrow in every note. That defining paradox of Drab Majesty is their apparently effortless fission of joy and sadness, causing the listener to be caught up in a tangle of feelings all at once, resulting in an unreal dreamscape that is matched in it’s intoxicating aura only by the emotional tax it demands.

Deb Demure has called Drab Majesty’s music, ‘tragic wave’, which is more apt a description than perhaps any other. But Modern Mirror sees new extremes to the spectrum that their music reach. Depths of introspective melancholy matched by fresh heights of hope and confidence. The latter is best embodied in the album’s closer, “Out Of Sequence”, which leaves us hungering for more, but somehow deeply fulfilled.


DAIS RECORDS will once again present the universe with the latest chapter in Deb and Mona’s non-terrestrial world.

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Review

CUT THE LIGHT approach tenebrous forms through black formlessness on “Aphotic”

Black Mara Records from Russia is a label this world needs when dark music has grown alarmingly safe and predictable. The dark ambient genre seems especially tame these days, often with artists prioritizing production values over content, or building pretentious themes the music can barely live up to let alone recreate.

The debut album from Cut the Light, a mysterious project with little to no background information, give us a refreshing blast of straight up darkness, and once more we are plunged back into the glory days of the genre, the focus itself once more being on pitch black atmospheres and fear. The term “Aphotic” itself refers to pure and absolute darkness, a place devoid of light, where demonic energies take being.

As for the recording and composition, the theme is definitely consistency, hearkening back to the days of Lustmord’s Paradise Disowned or early Endvra, where nearly every track is given the sonic backdrop of water. Water is the conduit spirits use travelling into this world, and the recording is made out to be like some sort of trip down a subterranean riverway, the waters and shores and cavernous walls and ceilings teeming with all forms of malignant life as all manner of sounds and voices and beastly moans enter the fray just out of reach of the lone traveler’s dying torchlight.

The composition itself is straightforward enough, not trying to reinvent the wheel of the genre, but pushing the envelope of tension and dread with each track, as more and more layers of subterranean madness are explored. Where an album like Lustmord’s Heresy would focus on the environment itself, and the deep subterranean rumbles from the bowels of the earth, this record takes form from the point of view of a lost traveler exploring those lost passages and encountering long-lost forms of predatory life and horrors better left undisturbed. At the heart of the album, one can even make out unearthly chanting and singing suggesting we’ve crossed the threshold to an undiscovered civilization, where their bestial rights and sacrifices to long undead gods continue unabated in the black-lit realms unseen by any human eyes.

Even to seasoned dark ambient listeners, this voyage is not for the timid or the weak. The atmosphere of this record is as obscure and genuine as a proper dark ambient record can possibly get, though be forewarned … the moment your mortal eyes glimpse the pale shores and Cyclopean ruins of the lowest realms, you won’t be coming back!


BLACK MARA presents the pitch black entity in a unique bound book with dark illustrations and description of spirits. Inside the handmade book features: audio CD, bottle of natural black oil, and black candle.

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CONCRETE WINDS reanimates the corpse of Vorum into a full frenzy on “Primitive Force”

It’s not widely known what led to the dissolution of the well loved Finnish death metal force that was Vorum, yet if the sound of Concrete Winds’ debut is any indication, it was no quick and easy death, but a vitriolic pressure tank that finally ruptured in the form of Primitive Force. And much like disparate parts from a shattered whole, Concrete Winds’ musical direction skews from Vorum’s sinister battering, into the realm of rabid, bestial despotism, drinking deep the lifeblood of bands in the vein of the mighty Conqueror and stretching the constitution of both themselves and the listener to the limit.

The analogy of pressure seems particularly apt when describing Primitive Force’s sound, which, from the opener, “Infant Gallow”, already feels as though built up to critical mass. Indeed, what characterizes the album is a sustained energy that never subsides or loosens its grip. It’s as though Concrete Winds exist in the first millisecond of a gunshot, at the moment the hammer smashes the bullet onto its decisive course. And much like a gunshot, every track on Primitive Force is as swift as it is devastating, conjuring an inhuman energy that inspires the listener beyond their own limits for hostility.

Alongside this enveloping merit of sustained ferocity, the band don’t only lean on their considerable ability to play fast and loud, but consistently jerk the instrumentation in sudden, ‘right-angle’ turns meant to perpetuate the moment to moment anarchy of a massacre, including that feeling of being ambushed and taken utterly off guard. Perhaps the most evident example of this lies in “Tyrant Pulse”, the opening salvo of which double bass suddenly digs into an infectiously simple bass-snare groove, overlaid by a deliciously malevolent riff overhead. It is totally unlike anything else on the record, and disregards any genre protocols to an incendiary effect. Especially in the abrasive sub-genre that Concrete Winds ascribe to, where the likes of Revenge or Diocletian rule, the ‘catchy factor’ is sometimes lost or else utterly abandoned by lesser bands, solely driven by speed and rage, or even worse, a dogged reliance on tradition. But those aspects will not sustain, and are only supplements to Concrete Winds’ musical domination.

For all that Concrete Winds inject into their sound, though, Primitive Force is undoubtedly a tried and true war metal album, retaining all the rabic blasting, flurried pickwork, and anxiety inducing drum fills that define the style, but without falling into the gaping pitfall of monotony that this style in particular, is plagued with. A prime example lies toward the end of “White Cut Manifest”, where the signature, ‘Caller Of The Storms’ (Blasphemy) styled soloing is invigorated with a manic noise that feels less like deliberate playing than it does the guitarist strangling his guitar to the absolute brink. The vocal performance is also worth noting, as it matches its instrumental counterparts in its vitality, so that it feels less an auxiliary performance and more like a man – beast taken past the brink of sanity and restraint.

Primitive Force serves as a hyper – violent rebirth from the remnants of Vorum, into a new breed of diseased creature, inflamed by an uncommonly fervent, unrelenting energy that binds everything together. From vocals, instruments, to the perfectly unrefined production, the many parts are so tightly bound in a unified attack that they become a singular force. Concrete Winds makes a lasting impression through the sheer sincerity of their delivery, which is not something commonly associated with much extreme metal, but that definitely should be.


Finland’s Vorum ceased to exist. But the dead cannot die, for they are still hungry …  Concrete Winds is about to release one of the most bestial recordings through SEPULCHRAL VOICE.

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KRYPTS collapse the veil between life & death with “Cadaver Circulation”

After nearly 3 years Finland’s finest, Krypts, rear their ugly heads, black viscera draining from their maws. A worthy bearer to the popular title “cavernous”, Cadaver Circulation is a harrowing delve into a stagnant black void of decomposition. Taking a somniferous approach to the death metal genre, Krypts newest release transports you to a realm of decay.

The opening of the album “Sinking Transient Waters”, stakes your mind with the rapid fecundity of a decaying bog. The guitars are an organic force, mushing and teeming with disease; while the drums evoke the feeling of porous soil, grounded yet spacious. The speed of the track rises and falls in cycles, bringing the conclusion to a slow crawl that trudges through the rest of the album.

During the second track the lead guitar takes a subdued role in the composition, creating an agonizing dissonance. The bass spews forth a black velvet veil, rustled by boundless vocals. The song “Echos Emanate Forms”, adds another layer to the drumming, one that is rudimentary and often militaristic, complementary to the gruesome funerary dirge, yet not without sporadic impulses. It is all over an uncanny canticle that emulates the process of the intangible becoming tangible, like watching a body rot back to life.

The next two tracks take familiar riffs and twist them into something far more disturbing than the average death metal album, adding miniscule touches to enhance the frightening aura; the devil is indeed in the details. The final elegy, “ Circling the Between”, contains hypnotizing radial songwriting, conjuring its namesake, leaving you in a fog reaching its closure making you beg for more of the never ending spiral.

Krypts unleashes a truly chasm-like experience without any trends that feels truly authentic. Cadaver Circulation is an amoebic and rotten ordeal, seeped in elegiac doom that bestows an elusive model for those to follow.


DARK DESCENT RECORDS is responsible for unleashing this aeonic slab of death metal upon your ears in all formats.

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ARES KINGDOM conjure the vitriol of their collective work on “By the Light of Their Destruction”

Harnessing the legacy of past and present potency, US Death\Thrash veterans Ares Kingdom return with their 4th and strongest album to date By the Light of Their Destruction. From the onset this album exudes power. Introduced with a cosmic soundscape, the exalted opening chords ring out of “The Hydra Void” shortly after. The track further affirms itself and sets the precedent for the album, unleashing ripping pace and delivery which continues throughout. Track by track the pulverising momentum charges forth, unrelenting until the trudging of “Allegory”.

Following the well positioned reprieve, the onslaught continues with the second half of the album pounding forth with renewed vigour. Expanding on the merciless atmosphere and further establishing dominance with standout tracks such as “The Bones of All Men” and “Iconologia”. In wake of the blazing trail lit throughout, the fire subsides much in the way it came, with the outro complimentary to the beginning.

The mix is well balanced overall with an emphasis on visceral aggression synonymous with their sound. Vicious call and response vocals seer, guitars gnash and mangle with precision, reinforced by the bass to create a dense and swamping atmosphere. The battering drums also stand out, with Mike Miller’s signature pinging snare and kick drums that actually register a bass frequency.

The tracks are well composed, expertly balancing blunt force riffing, entwined with lashes of melody and memorability reminiscent of genre stalwarts such as Slaughter Lord, Bolt Thrower and Ares Kingdom’s seminal forebears Order from Chaos. Whilst their songwriting prowess is firmly set in the old school, it isn’t at all reductive and retains a strong identity of its own.


Ares Kingdom have managed to accurately capture the spirit of Death/Thrash Metal with convincing prowess and assertiveness. There are no meaningless frills, convoluted, over-intellectualised pomp or need to please and impress the fickle. They achieve what they set out to do and present something that is intelligent, fiery and reeks of the confidence and surety that comes with experience. The result is one of the standout albums of this style in years past.


NUCLEAR WAR NOW! RECORDS shall be responsible for the release of this modern legendary release on all formats.

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ANTEDILUVIAN speaks of origins & obscurities through the voice of Mars Sekhmet

In the heavily saturated world of extreme music, it’s easy for artists to fall within existing lines and hope that they’re exceptional. However, those that truly experiment within the genre have given prolific listeners a chance to be challenged and drawn in by sounds that don’t feel the need to follow the formulas determined by people before them, allowing for more acute attention to atmosphere and the conveyance of the less tangible.

In the case of Edmonton’s Antediluvian, what is conveyed in their music is to become smothered by something amorphous and inescapable – the sounds of something being unwillingly ripped from another plane of existence. Made up of a core of two members (Haasiophis on vocals and guitar and drummer Mars Sekhmet), Antediluvian first achieved recognition in underground circles with a series of self-released demos. The simple and relentless drums prepare the ground for primitive vocals and disorienting guitar work that lays somewhere between old school death and black metal, while rejecting any clear structural confines.

“Several events coincided that made the birth of Antediluvian possible,” says Mars. “I was emerging from a period of a few years where I spent almost all of my waking hours by myself. Before Antediluvian, I only had interest in working on solo projects. I had decided I would finally learn to play the drums. I connected with Haasiophis exactly during a time period where his previous project was starting to fall apart, and the two of us played together within the first few weeks of me learning drums. He had ideas for a new project that formed the conceptual basis of Antediluvian, but I don’t think he had any expectations that someone just learning drums would be appropriate for that vision until we actually started playing together. Our first demo was released only a couple months later.”

The development of the band into what it is today is clear over the chronology of their work. From their first demos, to full-length Through the Cervix of Hawaah, to λόγος and their most recent EP Septentrional Theophany, the pieces and ideas that make up the project seem to amalgamate with each release. “Haasiophis and I are still the core members of the band. Antediluvian exists only with our combined forces,” says Mars. “Throughout the project, the two of us have done almost all of the song writing. I would not say that it has been confining artistically. If anything, I think it’s the opposite: because we have very different interests and ideas, and are both creative and driven people, we can sometimes be opposing forces. But with only two of us, we manage to create something with minimal compromise. At first, Haasiophis did most of the writing and conceptual framework. But through my birth as a drummer into this project I grew to have my own style, which I am always pushing for in the band. These factors together have caused Antediluvian to become something neither of us anticipated or planned.”

When asked whether the chaotic nature of their songwriting is spontaneous or an artistically conscious decision, Mars replies: “Both, or neither, depending on how you look at it. We are obviously consciously aware of it, as we struggle to master each song. We never outlined consciously how to write an Antediluvian song, but at the same time, when I write, I am writing specifically for Antediluvian. And that does involve always pushing the material to surprise me, so that it doesn’t become formulaic.”

Much like the music itself, their lyrical work evokes imagery of a perverse and deranged universe. A current of cosmic and protocanonical biblical themes run throughout, calling back to the era that is their namesake and shine a harsh light on the unlit parts of our mind that we might only experience during a fever dream. “I think what makes this band work is that there is a shared connection in the interest of exploring the unconscious mind. Specifically, we explore the way we, as humans, experience and evaluate the world in a way that is very detached from the moral guise of normal life. It focuses on the biological part of being human that has not changed much since antediluvian times. Outside of the realm of metal, people typically know me as a scientist. There too, I focus on the biological aspects of what it means to be human. And as someone who does art and science very seriously, I know that the two are highly connected. Antediluvian is an artistic exploration of our understanding of the human experience,” she says. “I am not involved in writing the lyrical content of Antediluvian. If I did, the underlying themes would be the same, but the form would be slightly different. Haasiophis has always been fascinated with the parallels in religious thinking across cultures.”

Their approach to art is holistic, with live shows, artwork, and lyrics all acting as parts of the bigger picture that is Antediluvian, rather than being afterthoughts to the sound they create. Taking in the band as a whole, one gets the impression that every part must exist simultaneously – almost like a living organism. “Take for example the Septentrional Theophany EP,” says Mars. “I wrote all the music for this EP, Haasophis created the artwork, and Jason Campbell wrote the lyrics. Despite the very modular roles we played, the EP came together in a way that is very unified.” She continues, “I think intertwining music, art, and personal philosophy isn’t really about responsibility, but about listening and studying your own work. In that sense, I resonate with the whole ‘black metal is serious’ thing. Putting on a show only works if you fully embody your own creation.”


Witness the primordial chaos lurch forth from a period of great dormancy as Antediluvian headlines Friday July 5th at Covenant Festival V in Vancouver, BC.

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