The proximity and motion of cosmic forces can be sensed in the works of human artists. The lesser brain functions of a slave species picking up wayward traces of unfathomable happenings taking place behind our dimensional curtain. But with a bold mission statement like, Hidden History Of The Human Race as an album title, Blood Incantation have dared to expose the truth that has been shrouded in secrecy for so long, translating the chthonic gibberish ramblings of astral broadcasts into the more familiar dialect of death fucking metal.
Starspawn left in its wake a population of rabid, newborn fanatics and a formidable standard for any sophomore record to supercede, but evidently no match for the earth shattering power of Hidden History Of The Human Race.
As the name would suggest, Hidden History Of The Human Race encompasses an odyssey that unfolds on multiple fronts. Narratively and musically, Blood Incantation violently jerk the listener back and forth between past and future, primitive and cruelly labyrinthine in seamless succession.
Every attribute that composes the Blood Incantation sound has been dialled up in its extremity in order to capture the magnitude of their message. The speed of drummer, Isaac Faulk’s feet and dextrous flourishes along the kit have become noticeably augmented with an added lunacy, suggestive of physical mutation initiated by consumption of alien knowledge.
Playing the middleman between Faulk’s tectonic performance and the transdimensional projections of Paul Reidl and Morris Kolontyrsky’s guitar work, bassist Jeff Barret’s playing seamlessly balances the thunderous impact of the rhythm section, while somehow also complementing the Demilich-ian discordance of the guitars. The result is a band acting on multiple levels simultaneously. Even when reaching for the heights of technical prowess in order to sonically describe the visages of four dimensional God beings in ”Awakening from the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Our Reality (Mirror of the Soul)”, there remains a deceptively brutish foundation beneath the chaos. Likewise, even as “Slave Species Of The Gods” hammers the listener with stone age weaponry, an aerial network of bizarre chord progressions can be heard just out of reach.
In this way, Blood Incantation’s music becomes overarching in its appeal, never dedicating themselves completely to a particular sub-genre faction, but encompassing them in opportune moments to create such a varied tapestry that this story requires. Because underlying the slobber-inducing moments of Gorguts and Morbid Angel worship, there remains a stalwart narrative heart at its center.
Even within an individual track like, “The Giza Power Plant”, there is constructed a journey traversing mood, tempo, and whole genres. What begins as a bizarre shock of discordant guitar and airy drum patterns embodying a generator coming back to life, quickly builds to a crescendo of unbridled magnitude, leading to a cataclysm that breaks into a long sigh across middle eastern deserts. Mirage-like notes resurrect long lost empires amid the Egyptian sand wastes, while intimidating chords of doom-laden melody wordlessly infer the magnitude of unearthed mysteries coming to the fore.
The final chapter in this whole forbidden production, “Awakening from the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Our Reality (Mirror of the Soul)” is several songs in one, a compact opus spanning nearly 20 minutes. But in breaking the whole down into written description, one almost certainly will find themselves reduced to overlong rambling and doing the song a disservice. To put it simply: following its predecessors this grand finale feels like an ultimate destination, reflecting all the traits of what has come before it, but merged into a megastructure of bizarre architecture that supersedes them in sheer scale.
Ethos has been vital, if not definitive, to Blood Incantation from the start in every way. Specifically that of ancient aliens, eastern mythology and conspiracy, to scratch the surface. Not only has it helped the band stand out by having such magnetic and culturally embedded keystones behind in their concept, but it seems to have given them an anchor of sorts to latch onto in songwriting. Blood Incantation take hold of these thematic reigns more than ever before to deliver an awe inspiring journey through time and space in Hidden History Of The Human Race.
Even before its long awaited release, it appeared that many fans were content with placing Hidden History Of The Human Race on their album of the year lists. That confidence looks to have paid off in a big way, as this is not only a serious AOTY candidate, but is likely to go down in the annals of death metal classics years down the road.
This massive beast is available from DARK DESCENT RECORDS for North America and CENTURY MEDIA for the rest of this doomed planet. All formats are available … support or die!
Modern death metal has gone through yet another resurgence of heightened invigoration in the last few years, with a particular concentration of perpetuating and reimagining ‘old school’ elements, and to magnificent effect. When death metal fans look back on these years, the likes of Necrot, Superstition, and Blood Incantation will likely ring true, but as this tempest of content rages, there are those bands who dirge in the abyssal regions of taste and experimentation, and who shunt away the spotlight in pursuit of the depths that creation can reach.
One year following the release of their debut full length, Permanent Destitution, Seattle sound violators, Hissing remain one of the most subversive and flat out difficult acts in modern death metal. Emulating the anxiety – inducing nature of a Pollock painting, smearing and splattering with raw waste in place of paint, it isn’t all that surprising that the band haven’t been as concentrated on by the masses as their label and genre counterparts have been.
And that is entirely the point.
To be honest, the music was consciously written to be as unpleasant as possible. – Z, Hissing bassist/vocalist
“It’s actively antisocial. Our guiding impulse was climax denial, I suppose. If something ever felt too satisfying or resolved too well, we would go back and “fuck it up”. We would add or remove measures or beats to make things more frustrating, but if it felt too “prog”, we would add something stupid and sloppy after to deny it a “technical” label. We wrote parts that were immensely difficult to play and we had parts that were frustratingly dumb and repetitive.”
Upon first listening to Hissing, Permanent Destitution in particular, the listener is placed in a position of abject discomfort. Nothing feels right. Constant shifts in tempo and chord progressions pull at them from every direction like a wanting crowd, while all the while they struggle to maintain their footing on a ground coated in filthy production. But given Z’s comments, the murk becomes a concentrated ray of intention and inverse vision. Much like the Dada movement of the early 20th century, in which creatives strove to avoid the shackles of sense and structure as a mode of defiance and exercising pent up rage, Hissing have built on a foundation of punishment and cruel deprivation.
“In post-production we added in additional harsh sounds at particular frequencies if a part felt too groovy after we tracked it… I don’t even know why we did some of the things we did, they just felt right.” Z adds further. “The entire project was driven by disdain and malice towards our listeners. Extreme metal is and should always be an inherently abrasive medium.”
Running parallel with their approach to sound, Hissing’s visual and lyrical representation is a conscious step away from what is commonly associated with extreme metal. The name, Permanent Destitution, alone speaks volumes to this fact. Rather than painted visuals of horror phantasm or the systematic narration of a body’s colorful violation, Z and his bandmates aim to conjure an aura of panic and trauma via alternate arteries of inspiration.
“The word “destitution” can mean a lot of things, and it isn’t meant to mean one thing here. The album deals with various manifestations of insanity, abjection, failure, things that I think are not only integral to life but are perhaps it’s only actively defining characteristics. Starting with the macrocosm of the failure of history and narrowing scope to the microcosm of the slow disintegration of the human mind subjected to the trauma of existence. A reversed Maslow hierarchy, perhaps. Humans fail to remember history and repeat the same wars and genocides. Humans love to distract themselves with garbage pop media spoonfed to them. Humans create great mountains of garbage. Humans act on their base desires without understanding why. Humans abuse the power they’re given without consequence. And in the end, human minds degrade and lose touch with reality and it was all for nothing. The more you understand the way human civilization has organized itself the more you find just how cold and ugly it is from top to bottom and the inevitable conclusion becomes that we are, in fact, in Hell.”
In his phrasing alone, Z reflects the spirit of Hissing: one of vitriol and loathing for the human being and/or being human. It is a conflict only as old as its sole combatants, and especially in times such as ours, Hissing’s well of inspiration seems limitless.
“The miasma of the human hive in the city we live in. Rather than active human malice and cruelty, I think we’re more interested in the dull violence of tedium, the slow corrosive way that modern life saps your passion and vitality day by day and we let it happen.” Z states, immediately bringing to mind the nature of our current, social media, mass marketed, politically correct and thought policed society.
“If death metal is about horror, in my mind there’s nothing more horrifying than simply being alive. Beckett, Bernhard, and Céline are some reference points for styles of expression. One of the songs on the record was deeply inspired by my brief obsession with Andrea Dworkin’s “Intercourse” – a truly bleak take on human desire. Sometimes I take lyrical fragments from lucid dreams and misheard sentence fragments. The subconscious is powerful and sometimes reveals the things we don’t dare think in our waking lives. I firmly believe that every human around me is silently screaming in buried psychic rage and our true selves come out when we find these moments of lost control. “Sanity” is a prison we have built around ourselves to maintain what we call civilization, where a few rich sociopaths profit off of misery and genocide. I don’t think we hold any naïve hope for a better world. Our music and lyrics are simply a natural reaction to the one we have been thrust into.”
So soon after the release of Permanent Destitution, Hissing stand on the verge of yet another release that, albeit of a smaller scale, represents a considerable turn (or return?) into the realm of industrial noise in Burning Door, which drops on November 22nd, on Utech Records.
“[Burning Door is] quite different, in that it was a much more consciously anti-musical project than before.” says Z when asked for some updates on the new EP. “We had ideas and reference points for what we would do, but it was assembled slowly using several months’ worth of improvisations and experiments in sound, as well as incorporating sound fragments leftover from the recording of Permanent Destitution. In my mind it’s more of a tangent than a continuation of the narrative of Permanent Destitution. I would urge uninitiated listeners to take it in as less a musical narrative as with our record, and more a psychedelic experience. I realize how pretentious this sounds, but the point is, it’s not a structured musical statement and if you go in expecting that you’re going to be angry at us and write pedantic, whining reviews on the internet.”
It’s sad that such a disclaimer is so necessary nowadays.
While Burning Door is a deliberate departure from the full length, the industrial realm is in fact rooted deep in Hissing’s origins.
“Two of us met at a Morbid Angel show through mutual friends and discussed wanting to start a project that ideally would have some longevity and potential to explore a variety of things that we were interested in. We initially were writing sort of pained, dirgey stuff with a drum machine in the style of Godflesh but found ourselves lacking the momentum we wanted so we added a drummer and suddenly everything became faster, more chaotic…[We] have been making noise music for years, although I only recently started actually playing it live and releasing it, partially because I used to live in a small town where no one cared and now live in a city where a few people care. Noise music (in the broadest sense) has influenced and been a part of every project I’ve been involved with, even my shitty high school grindcore bands. Rock music has always bored me, I’ve learned to enjoy “classic” rock and metal bands in recent years but for the longest time I disavowed anything I found too cathartic. No pain, no gain.”
Z went on to divulge his own feelings of appreciation for the less corporeal modes of sonic artistry:
“Improvised noise music can elicit some of the most pure, exhilarating audio stimulation if done right. There’s a kinship between noise acts like Incapacitants and jazz, where you’re creating something constantly unexpected, and your brain is being forced to try to make sense of something when it is being fed only disconnected scraps of rhythm, narrative, meaning. When you have three or four different layers of this musical anti-narrative happening at the same time, the result is overwhelming and powerful, like staring off a cliff into the ocean. There’s a project called Mastery from San Francisco that I think perfectly translates this dialogue between randomness and order into black metal form. Conversely, true industrial music emphasizes the machinic through endless repetition, pounding a single rhythm into your skull until it becomes all-consuming. Instead of the otherworldly, it creates anxiety, the existential misery of reality. Swans’ “Greed” – particularly the song Bastard (Time is Money) – has been a longtime influence and example of this.
“Hissing exists somewhere in a liminal space between these two ideas, the sublime chaos of improvisation and the ugliness and misery of repetition, vacillating in and out as needed.”
Going off of the topic of Hissing’s sense of belonging, when asked where he thought of the band’s existence within the current metal scene, even over email, Z’s shrug and sigh was almost tangibly evident.
“People don’t seem to know what to do with us. Either they get it or they don’t. Some seem to think we’re “hipsters” intruding on the war metal scene or whatever. I’ve heard that we’re too “artsy”. I don’t know what to make of all this, and the older I get the less I care. There is a small contingent of similarly unorthodox black/death bands like Suffering Hour and Succumb in the States that I’ve been discovering over the years and making friends with because I imagine they get the same stupid treatment. But honestly, the bottom line is: we’re not here to recycle Obituary riffs for you and sell beer. If you don’t like it, then fuck off.”
A society is reflected in the artistry it yields, and thereby we are sometimes able to see its face more clearly than any government or social movement could ever encapsulate. Like a mirror into the fragmented soul of mankind, the works of countless minds, each maddened to a greater or lesser degree, whisper hidden truths back to us. In this way, the obscure cult of daemoniac Spaniards, Teitanblood, have resurfaced with little warning to remind us of the species deathwish that mankind harbors for itself in The Baneful Choir.
From their inception and debut full length, Seven Chalices, which gnawed at the seals of apocalypse, Teitanblood have become sacrosanct through their awe inspiring mastery over absolute aural hell. With every subsequent work, these anonymous toilers at the edge of oblivion define further aspects of the elemental chaos. Both Seven Chalices and Death illustrated a flaying tempest storm that hung above the dredging abyss of bemoaning death/doom, manifested in Accursed Skin. But as we approach the end of yet another year along our world’s disastrous course, Teitanblood converge their past works into a lethal speartip, in what feels like a culmination piece to honor an imminent end that we have yet to be made aware of.
Upon first experiencing it in full, it is unquestionable that The Baneful Choir is the product of minds brought to the apogee of human capacity for vitriol. The cup runneth over, spilling along a narratively protean structure that simultaneously reaches further in every direction that Teitanblood have previously striven.
The incensed bellows, spastic abuse of stretched skin percussion, and foaming riffage that normally are let loose upon the first second of a Teitanblood album are, in The Baneful Choir, restrained beneath the ominous, “Rapture Below” and its immediate counterpart, “Black Vertebrae”, which draw a dagger of icy discomfort along the listener’s spine. Bone chilling strings wine out across vast leagues of polluted air, and the looming shadow of an approaching giant is silhouetted starkly against it as it appears to march exhaustively on tired feet. The sheer weight of the thing finally causes it to crumble into superheated dust, giving way to the inevitable ravaging of “Leprous Fire”.
The mounting, even sluggish beginnings of The Baneful Choir do nothing but augment the terrible shock that its inner meat afflicts upon the listener. Few songwriters are able to incite the involuntary seizures akin a possession, but Teitanblood are irrefutably born of that depraved genius.
It is only once “Ungodly Others” discharges its black seed into your head that “Leprous Fire” seems like a comparatively kind induction to The Baneful Choir’s sickening ferocity. A deceptively simple riff and drum pattern characterizes “Ungodly Others”, returning several times over with the decimating trauma of infernal artillery salvos. The listener is immediately addicted as Teitanblood stomp them into the dust, disgusted and hate – filled, but all the while unfathomably catchy in their delivery.
Perhaps better than ever, the band balance the suffocating stream of bestial black metal with that more primitive, lumbering death metal sound. And while the Slayer influence has been evident from the band’s start in their manic soloing that borders on the absurd, a more purely defined moment of Slayer worship surfaces early on in “Verdict Of The Dead”, as though the band are, for precious moments, musically reminiscing on a song like “Postmortem” before quickly abandoning any such reverie and continuing along their own path of slaughter.
While fleeting, it’s these moments of unexpected divergence (I’m looking at you, “Sleeping Throats Of Antichrist”) that have only further raised Teitanblood above the masses. Moments of what sometimes feel like homage, but in such a way that it is never anything but their own.
Blackened death metal is a style that is simultaneously one of the most intensely hard hitting sub – genres to come out of the extreme underground and one of the most incredibly difficult to properly play. But Teitanblood are among the upper echelons for a reason. Not only do they formulate one swirling bedlam after the next, but they smartly intercut these with patient treks across quietly evocative atmosphere (ie. “Insight”,“Of The Mad Men”, and “Charnel Above”) and a central mount of despair built on foundations of the deepest doom in “The Baneful Choir” itself.
The album’s namesake track is not only the longest, but manages to stand alongside its shorter lived, more abhorrent kin by offering something more. “The Baneful Choir” harbors a different shade of darkness than any other song, trading barbarous violence for a sweeping air of absolute sorrow. The guitars drone like that of gigantic locust wings, while the rhythm section digs fruitlessly into the ground, unable to go anywhere, unable to escape the coming end. In some ways, “The Baneful Choir” is the most apocalyptic track of them all.
While The Baneful Choir is by no means an easy listen, it is perhaps the most fully fleshed, and thereby most accessible work Teitanblood have done to date. In some ways the band have improved upon their past work, particularly in the way of their approach to the slower doom sections, enhancing those aspects that we have come to expect and praise about the band. To hear a group so immensely affecting on all fronts is both a gift and a dangerous rumination on what comes next:
When art such as this so completely encapsulates Armageddon, the true end must be close at hand.
How often does something take you off guard, to such a point that you aren’t even sure you like it or hate it? The very nature of the thing strays from accepted paradigms and into a region of sometimes uncomfortable unfamiliarity, testing you and your taste like an optical illusion tests the eye. Black Death Cult represents one such rarity in music, a faceless entity mashing disparate elements together in the shadows like a mad artisan of eldritch curiosities.
It seems inevitable, as though by design, that BDC should confuse and, perhaps, enrage the average extreme metal fan who stumbles upon its debut full length, Devil’s Paradise. With a name like Black Death Cult, there is an immediate expectation of what awaits, but instead of murky, cavernous death doom, or frantic bestial violence, we are greeted by a true anomaly of the macabre.
In the opening moments of “Infernal Triad”, as the atmospheric guitar inspires an atmosphere of eerie foreshadowing, there is little hint as to what awaits except for the woeful undercurrent of organ notes. But like an uprising from the depths, that minute organ suddenly becomes startlingly monumental, clashing with the guitar for prominence. As though such overt use of organ pipes weren’t already surprising, given the primitive trudge of the rest of the band, the style in which it is played only inspires greater awe as it begins to steer the drums and strings like a vessel into regions of bombastic, even hilariously over the top drama. But a constant ebb and flow exists throughout Devil’s Paradise, as the traces of classic doom and black metal manage to enforce their presence, taking hold before once again being hypnotized by the gothic spirit that permeates the album.
“Double Monolith”, for instance, opens with a straight and narrow plummet into the abyss, characterized by the vocals’ hauntingly claustrophobic rumble and the ignorant bashing of the rhythm section. But like leathery wings unfolding, the music takes wind on organ piped notes, and we find ourselves in the midst of a visceral black mass ritual that suddenly devolves into an insane, tribal dirge as the vocals become possessed with otherworldly fervor.
Such a conflict forms the foundation of nearly every track along Devil’s Paradise, giving it a wholly unpredictable aspect, and yet all the while an overarching continuity is maintained.
Evoking the mood of a fell church congregation in the midst of a Hammer horror film, BDC walk dangerously on the line between unnerving atmosphere and Halloween campiness. The result is a sonic aesthetic reminiscent of the visual style found in archival photos of 1970’s LaVeyen Satanic practice, or that of Aleister Crowley, where the tongue in cheek aspects mingled with undercurrents of occult darkness and tripped out psychedelia. That is to say that BDC revel in the fun that morbid darkness provides, alongside its many mysteries and horrors.
If each song on Devil’s Paradise is thought of as a ritual, then surely the presence of synths represents the hallucinogenic component, which begins to take greater effect toward the latter half of the album, coming to a head in the closer, “The Unnameable”.
Words spoken through a haze of LSD, siren like drones rising up out of the murk to signal the end, all while the band seems to spiral downwards, dragging you alongside them on a nightmarish trip that finally ends in an airy realm of ethereal synths.
The key to pulling off what BDC attempt in Devil’s Paradise is simply balance. With such strangely juxtaposed elements, balance is everything, or else it all falls apart and is nighe unlistenable. The fact that such a travesty never comes to fruition is credit to the songwriting genius/insanity behind BDC, but even more so in arguably the strongest point on the album: “Nightside Of The Pyramid”.
Exacting a dangerous alignment of atmosphere and heaviness, “Nightside Of The Pyramid” eschews the organ and Hammer horror aesthetic in exchange for John Carpenter – esque synths that speak of the towering mystery of the Egyptian monument. The moment of wonder and beauty is ended as a threshold is crossed and the wrathful spirits of the dead vocalize in swirls about the listener as they descend into subterranean vaults.
“Nightside Of The Pyramid” alone constitutes a journey well worth taking, amidst an even greater whole. This is Black Death Cult at their strongest.
To fully appreciate Devil’s Paradise requires many replays, and a willingness to shift one’s expectations and perceptions. If you’re going in with a need for the kind of cathartic bloodletting that Teitanblood or Death Worship provide, then you are definitely looking in the wrong place. It might be uncomfortable to embrace a somewhat satirical and even comedic aspect to an otherwise humorless area of music that is extreme metal, but that’s what makes Black Death Cult so unique and why Devil’s Paradise deserves to be heard.
In a conflict that spans continents, four players in a game of mutually assured destruction each set off their chosen salvo of concentrated hatred, leaving no victor, only an aftermath of desecration and ruin.
The four way split entitled, Scorn Coalescence serves as a kind of simulation of such a devastating, apocalyptic clash between forces. With every subsequent track, artillery shift their treads, altering firing patterns, as the calculated infantry that advance upon the enemy are suddenly replaced with frantic berserkers. Both within each track on this four part end times display, as well as between them, the aura of crossfire reigns supreme, and ultimate conflict is invoked.
Scorn Coalescence is made up of four different bands, representing two very remote countries half a world away, and yet all bound together by the gnarled chains of the bestial style. Sri Lankan radicals and New Zealand maniacs pit themselves against one another in bitter, merciless struggle to the end. Here, the terrain of this battleground is borne of black and death metal, and each combatant navigates their own way. (editor’s note: N. from Heresiarch explains how the split came to be)
Sri Lanka has gained prominence in recent years within the underground for a burgeoning atmosphere of metal that is as acidic as it is brutally pummeling. So it is only logical that the Sri Lankan scene be represented by some of their strongest perpetrators. Serpents Athirst make the first move in “Poisoning The Seven”, which, from the chilling riff that begets the storm, exudes an air of dominating prowess and grandeur. Battle lines drawn and marching blocks of troop offensives emanate from Serpents Athirst in their playing. Never does the band lose control of the raw chaos they invoke, instead managing to keep it tightly bound within strict doctrine of warfare, only to let it loose in a concentrated blast of unremitting hellfire.
Through the smoking rubble, following in the wake of their countryman, Genocide Shrines are not content to sweep up the survivors and straglers of the initial assault, but proceed to take the situation fully into their own grasp in the form of “All And/Or Nothing”.
It quickly becomes apparent that both bands out of Sri Lanka share a knack for calculated violence, as Genocide Shrines seem to have kept the thousand pound warbeast of their conjoined sound in check, directing it against the enemy lines. A bulbous, overripe bass tone undercuts the band’s sound, and paired with the abyssal howls of Tridenterrorcult, Genocide Shrines shakes the earth under treads of indominable, tyrannical iron. There is a sonic narrative trajectory that characterizes “All And/Or Nothing”, as the initial holocaust rises to a steadier, upward gaze of triumph, only to be cast back down into the maelstrom of eternal warfare once again. In its own way, Genocide Shrines are encapsulating the inevitable flat circle of the human race.
In opposition to the regimented attackers, New Zealand is embodied in twin engines of pandaemonium to offset the structure of the enemy. Out of the haze, Trepanation exact a blitzkrieg of psychotic violence, letting out manic screams of reckless abandon as they seem to flail themselves about at anything that moves. All the while, a seething tone of electronic noise pierces the fog, causing the listener to feel shell shocked and dazed, only to be hastily cut down by Trepanation’s frenetic dirging.
The decisive end comes with the arrival of Heresiarch and their warhead termination protocol through, “Dread Prophecy”. The Wellington horde intend to end everything, exhibiting aspects of ally and enemy alike through the lense of their own will. Subsequent barrages of blasting drums, rabidly squirming guitar, and barbaric gutturals turn any kind of foundations to dust. The bass reigns supreme in Heresiarch’s arsenal, looming like a sonic giant in the mix of their overall roar. When met with the drums and vocals, Heresiarch summon a tectonic scale of impact that one can only behold with despair and awe.
In this war, no one wins. Such is the power of these four bands. As scathing as it is, Scorn Coalescence is an informative split in several ways. In the aftermath of it all, we can see overt similarities and differences between bands and the countries they come from through their respective sounds. And by doing this, it also goes to show the flexibility of the bestial war metal style. What is often relegated to a strict dogma of execution is, in regards to these four bands, made less cramped, and open to interpretation of the blueprint.
As is the nature and most effective application of the genre, Scorn Coalescence hits hard and fast, wasting no time to initiate the inevitable downfall of life. But with every song, we are propositioned with fire and poison by four different bands, and each one is befitting of further exploration and allegiance.
The woeful prophets of the abyss, Sempiternal Dusk, emerge from their hellish seance with the other side, only to bestow their curse upon the world with Cenotaph Of Defectuous Creation, a vivid projection of supernaturally hypnotic doom dredged from Styx’s riverbed. The elegance with which Sempiternal Dusk balance the triumvirate of unstable elements of death, doom, and black metal is simply a bait, meant to draw the listener into a perpetual spiral of debilitation. And like desperate slaves we pursue the mortal coil to its very end, time after time.
The method behind Sempiternal Dusk’s madness is as simple as it is brutally effective. The band lock into a foundational riff or two, and from there proceed to repeatedly beat the listener against it, rather than build out of it. Rarely does the band stray far from the baseline they establish at the outset of a song, instead basting the listener in a thick stew of ichorous noise, progressively absorbing them in perverse osmosis.
This effect of complete immersion is not possible by repetition alone, though. Sempiternal Dusk skew their musical approach with every track, phasing between genres, feelings and atmospheres in such a way that each song becomes its own vignette of blasphemy. “Excavated Filth From Dimensional Incarnations” dwarfs the listener before cyclopean grandeur, as the band’s looming riffs and quaking rhythm section threaten to swallow the sky, only until unseen gates suddenly open, like the maw of Minas Morgul, to discharge endless legions upon distant lands. The scale is hopelessly vast, cowing all in the shadow of a villain’s glory.
But before any expectations for what is to come can be properly formulated, “Orgiastic Feast Upon Martyred Flesh” gets up close and personal in a decidedly more brutal attack of throbbing blasts, intercutting the relentless battering with decisive cymbal work that evokes a semblance of barbaric ritual. The straight ahead death march sparked by “Orgiastic Feasts Of Martyred Flesh” is carried on in militant thunder by the fleeting desolation of “Beneath The Emblem Of Death”, and marks the borderline of styles before the shift into decidedly more blackened territory.
In “Refracted Suffering Through The Windows Of Hell”, the shock and awe imposed by the prophets’ visions of Hell have subsided, only to be replaced by a mood of inexorable hopelessness. The titanic scale and tectonic weight of course remains, though Sempiternal Dusk’s writhing death doom cuts with an edge of old school black metal riffing, hinting at the inverse regality of the underworld.
The mounting depression comes to a head in a well of quiet solitude as the album closer, “Spears Of Pestilence” yawns into being, like a hulking abomination chained down in a pit of antediluvian slime. Out of a funereal cradle of glacial agony, “Spears Of Pestilence” depicts one last futile dirge against the void before finally succumbing. Sempiternal Dusk’s guitars never breach the surface of that putrid lake, reverberating with the weight of the world, as the drums struggle to bear the weight. The vomitous spew of T.C’s vocals conjoin seamlessly with the guitar tone, in a reeking ode to despair from the throat of the suffering damned.
Cenotaph Of Defectuous Creation is exemplary proof of the malleability of extreme metal. Sempiternal Dusk manipulate varying styles to their advantage, weaving and crossbreeding the likenesses of Incantation with Disembowelment, among others, and with masterful fluidity to appeal to multiple tastes of heaviness, all bound together under the reign of absolute fucking death.
To be unveiled by the mighty DARK DESCENT RECORDS on CD and black or coloured Black “A” side/Silver “B” side merge vinyl.
The veil between the realms of the living and the dead appears to thin in the vicinity of Portland, Oregon. Whether it’s carnal aura seeps into the water of the maritime city, or takes to the air, it is without doubt present and deeply rooted in the local, underground music scene, which has become arguably one of the primary gestation points for an ever expanding infestation of young death metal bands rooted in the past. As a perfect representative of the fervent OSDM movement coming from Portland, one need look no further than the depraved juggernaut, Witch Vomit, ascending from the depths on the momentum of their sophomore full length, Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave.
The band’s 2017 EP, Poisoned Blood, electrified the underground with its no bullshit approach and genuine spirit of decayed personality, and has, since its release, only instilled rabid anticipation for what Witch Vomit would expel next. But that time is upon us, as what plethora of shambling riffs, thundering drum hits, and blasphemic aural curses that were interred in to a shared tomb of inspiration have finally conjoined into the hideous conglomerate, Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave, alive and hellbent on bringing the world down with it.
Though many would argue that Poisoned Blood was regrettably brief, Witch Vomit more than make up for it in Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave, which feels perfectly timed, neither fleeting nor overstaying its welcome. There is also a notable cementing of the band’s dynamic as a unit. The songwriting is as tight as it’s ever been, calling on the spirits of the old guard: Entombed, Grave, and even a strain of Bolt Thrower for good measure. Even the shortest track, “Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave” exacts a damnable tax on the listener’s sanity, with a driving riff as hypnotic as the call of a succubus. The wrongness is palpable, but before you can realize it, you’re already fucked and dead.
The stench of raw decay is incensed with spectral horror, as both bass and guitar manifest a stronger atmosphere than has ever been present in the band’s sound before. The instrumental, “Squirming In Misery” vividly evokes the feeling of undeniable defeat, as you are conquered and buried alive. This heightened air of malefaction that runs throughout the record compliments the characteristic primitive dirge that has always been present in Witch Vomit.
“Despoilment” seeks to militarize abysmal legions with a section of fuming double bass chugging strings that embody the speeding tracks of infernal war engines, before exploding into a realm of demoralizing hallucination as the guitars steep their strings in effects to pull the listener into a state of unreality. Are you dead or dreaming?
The drum performance has noticeably risen in its command over each track. Time and time again, the percussion demands your attention, either in dynamic changes of tempo and style, or through the minute implementation of spot on bell and cymbal hits that give the belligerent quaking an added persona. Often times when drawing on influences, either of pioneering bands or genres altogether, it’s the minuscule peculiarities that can make a song remain in the listener’s memory, and not be swallowed up by the jumbled mass of what we each consume in terms of music alone. In that way, the drum performance has never been so detrimental to Witch Vomit’s attack.
Saving it for the very last, “Fumes Of Dying Bodies”, closes the album with nothing short of fucking pandaemonium. Witch Vomit leave you in shock and awe, both that the record is over, and that they may have ended it with the best song of their career thus far. The virtues of songwriting, instrumental ability, and vocal execution all come to a lethal spearhead aimed for the jugular. With that masterful final stroke, Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave comes to a swift conclusion, marking yet another curse upon Portland’s reputation as a home to rampant depravity and horror in the sonic medium.
Pray for death!!!!
20 BUCK SPIN will release Witch Vomit’s Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave on CD, LP, cassette, and digital formats.
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
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.
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.