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COVENANT Magazine’s Favourite Aural Abominations of 2019

One of the greatest things about toiling away in music is the privilege to be exposed to such a colossal amount of record releases up to the minute. A single glance at Covenant’s musical activity over the years reflects a diverse juxtaposition of genres and sounds. Our greater collective and associates are an eclectic bunch. Between the festivals and magazine, we try to keep a keen eye (and ear) on everything under the umbrellas of extreme metal and goth music of all kinds. Though the sounds vary, the essence remains the same.

It may be indulgent, but since we added a bit of value to the world of music journalism this past year, we are also contributing our voices to the surmounting lists that attempt to summarize the last 365 days in music. Our overall top 10 is an attempt to be objective, as it represents just about everything we could all agree on. Below that we asked our staff and various members of the greater collective to lend their individual voices. The results are about as wildly diverse as it gets.

Let us collectively banish the year that was 2019 by celebrating the fruits it produced, and look toward the future of greater things to come!


1 // Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race

Surprised? Of course you aren’t. For most bands, touring with Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, and Immolation would not only be high points of their year, but would most likely go on to define their careers. For Blood Incantation, it will probably go down as a foot-note of their 2019, right under the part that says ‘released Hidden History Of The Human Race‘. It is that grandiose of an accomplishment, and a couple paragraphs here cannot hope to begin to encapsulate the grandeur it holds, or do it justice. It enters a rare pantheon of modern records that will be enshrined as all-time classics.

Read the FULL REVIEW

2 // Volahn – El Tigre Del Sur

If a band ever needed a strong statement to not just return to the forefront of attention, but to also crush the lies of doubters and naysayers, it was Volahn, and they have done just that with El Tigre Del Sur. The fact that it is a powerful and proud Zapatista declaration that is so passionately Mexican and anti-colonial makes it very easy to lose sight of perhaps the most important factor when observing this as a recording of music: it is their best material to date. Overflowing with beautiful melodies of blatant Latin influence that are rarely heard in metal music, it often sounds more like the score to a Sergio Leone film than it does to what we think as being “black metal”. Complete with athletic and bombastic drumming, and a brilliant ending that will be remembered for all time, El Tigre Del Sur stands triumphant against all who would attempt to besmirch his name!

3 // Ioanna Gika – Thalassa

Sometimes a record honestly comes out of nowhere and blindsides you like a wayward sucker punch. Thalassa was an unexpected game changer: A shadowy siren from a foreign land with a name that’s even hard to pronounce, crafting a genre that practically doesn’t exist. Ioanna Gika creates a stunning blend of sounds that defy absolutely any categorization. Wavey, ethereal pop that contorts into a fractal of stunning beauty. Certainly not your usual scheduled programming. Hers is a voice from another realm of existence, and the echoes that remain resound through the chamber of your very soul. Keeping up with this album is an exciting exercise, as practically no two moments sound the same. “Interesting” is a cruel understatement. “Masterpiece” is closer to the mark.

4 // Misþyrming – Algleymi

Discarding the melancholy and mystery of 2015’s Söngvar elds og óreiðu, Iceland’s most depraved return on the infamous Norma Evangelium Diaboli label with the indeed orgiastic and ecstatic Algleymi. For a band who had so quickly announced themselves on the world stage with a powerful album and performances at esteemed festivals such as Roadburn just 4 years ago, it is startling to see them kick in to an even higher gear, and return with such vitriol. The future of Misþyrming is all at once a promising and intimidating prospect!

5 // Funereal Presence – Achatius

An archaic crypt flung open earlier this year and the miasma of Funereal Presence enveloped us all once again. The solo project of Negative Plane’s batterer crafted a timeless piece of timelessness. Finally the project fiercely declared independence and boldly stepped out of the shadow. As a tandem release between two of the most clandestine forces in black metal, Sepulchral Voice Records and The Ajna Offensive, the stage was already set for something potent. The first since 2014’s The Archer Takes Aim, the next chapter Achatius dove deeper into a unique sound that manages to amalgamate everything magical about 80’s black metal. An infectious dose of marathon length songs comprising swirling, subaquatic guitar tones, echoing pounding percussion, shimmering leads, and a folkloric spectre ever looming.

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6 // L’Epee – Diabolique

Fall back into a twisting, psychedelic void. A wormhole directly back to an imagined 1960’s where devilish French women sing you songs of danger, lust, and abandon. Psyche garage rock never was so delicious. L’Eppe is a combined project featuring the mastermind behind Brian Jonestown Massacre, the husband and wife juggernaut The Limiñanas, and the perfect voice of Emmanuelle Seigner (better known as Green Eyes from the film The Ninth Gate). Imagine the lush tapestry of The Velvet Underground with the indulgent pop sensibility of Serge Gainsbourg and the bouncy irreverence of the ye-ye movement. Now turn it up to a soul-rattling volume as you drive headlong into a night-cloaked desert. You have some idea of what Diabolique feels like.

7 // Drab Majesty – Modern Mirror

The aliens have landed again and this time they brought us another gift from the cosmos: A shady synth pop observation of modern decay. Whereas the universally adored The Demonstration presented delightfully infectious darkness and melancholy, the lens through which Modern Mirror gazes is one of brighter optimism. The hooks are diabolically addictive and the melodies are nearly parasitic. Deb Demure proves once again to be one of the most accomplished songwriters of our age – the arpeggios, the dense layers, the driving rhythms, the sorrowful vocals. Yet in this iteration, Mona D makes his full presence known, taking lead vocals on the album highlight “Oxytocin”. Perhaps slightly less of a heart-wrenching, life-altering affair, Modern Mirror provides a more whimsical exploration, but has launched the space invaders to another level of successful infiltration. A masterful concoction such as this proves that it doesn’t take a human mind to craft a perfect pop album.

Read the FULL REVIEW

8 // Superstition – The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation

Death metal is in a serious renaissance. Superstition is at the vanguard. With a sound that we have championed from the earliest murmurs, Superstition finally struck the essence of pure old(est) school death metal with their first full length. The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation is an endless smothering flow of forgotten ideas channeled straight from the late 80’s Floridian swamps and New York back alleys. Somewhere the disembodied brain of Mike Browning is emanating riffs and structures to a demented quartet in the deserts of New Mexico. It can be the only feasible explanation for a sound that is so wholly unique and realized while also being a perfect homage to an earlier age. So rarely have an absolutely barrage of riffs marched on the listener in all out spiritual attack formation like this. It’s well-worth the possessing enchantment!

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9 // Bolzer – Lese Majesty

With the release of Bolzer’s Lese Majesty, we have seen the band through their social media outlets begin to refer to their discography in a different way. Instead of reflecting on it as a demo and two EPs that gradually paved the way for Hero, which indeed at the time did seem like the long awaited full length offering, Bolzer has began referring to each release as an album. Indeed, this may seem bizarre to many, but for a band that has such a concise, quality, and meticulously controlled output- a band that did indeed rise to notable prominence off of the strength of a 15 minute release – it provides a unique lens to look at the band’s discography. This latest release is their second longest, clocking in just under 30 minutes, and it is the the sound of a more mature Bolzer. The scathing black metal of Zeus, Seducer Of Hearts is at the forefront, the muscular death metal of Aura and Soma are omnipresent, and of course the progressive nature and booming clean vocals of ‘Hero’ are applied all at once freely and with a tactical caution. For the past 8 years, we have all witnessed a band gestate and try new ideas while all at once stay within their egregore. Now it is time to witness that band arise to their height.

10 // Camp.30 – Eyes Only

Having risen to notoriety through his work on the enigmatic PLAZA’s Shadow EP (perhaps the single best dark R&B record of all time), Camp.30 is a man unhappy with thought of resting on his laurels. While that project takes what course it might, Camp.30 has branched out and shown that he is capable of the same, if not even richer atmosphere without any vocalist. Eyes Only is rare melody after rare melody, strange harmonies aplenty, and a level of production in electronic music that we at this publication believe is unparalleled. Somewhere between that late-night Toronto r&b sound, and a deeper, more sinister and introspective dark ambient sound lies Camp.30’s magnificent Eyes Only.

Read the FULL REVIEW


COVENANT STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS

Doomscribe

  1. Drab Majesty – Modern Mirror
  2. Pissgrave – Posthumous Humiliation
  3. Teitanblood – The Baneful Choir
  4. Funereal Presence – Achatius
  5. Cerebral Rot – Odious Descent Into Decay
  6. Witch Vomit – Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave
  7. Yellow Eyes – Rare Field Ceiling
  8. Departure Chandelier – Antichrist Rise To Power
  9. Devil Master – Satan Spits On Children Of Light
  10. Blood Incantation – Hidden History Of The Human Race

Colin Scott

  1. Blut Aus Nord – Hallucinogen
  2. Diocletian – Amongst the Flames of a Burning God
  3. Formless Master – First Strike
  4. Abysmal Lord – Exaltation of the Infernal Cabal
  5. Deafkids – Metaprogramação
  6. Peter Bjargo – Structures and Downfall
  7. Undeath – Sentient Autolitisys
  8. Baneblade – Oblivion Death March
  9. Mefitis – Emberdawn
  10. Bolzer – Lese Majesty

Loke Atropus

  1. Black Earth – Gnarled Ritual of Self Annihilation
  2. Aesthetic Meat Front – Essence of Rituals
  3. Trepaneringsritualen – ᛉᛦ – Algir; Eller Algir I Merkstave
  4. Teitanblood – The Baneful Choir
  5. Nordvargr – Daath
  6. Halo Manash – Unetar
  7. The Caretaker – Everywhere an Empty Bliss
  8. Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio – Let’s Play (Two Girls & a Goat)
  9. Sopor Aeternus & the Ensemble of Shadows – Death and Flamingos
  10. Rattenfanger – Geisserlieder

Ana Krunic

  1. Schammasch – Hearts of No Light
  2. Thee Oh Sees – Face Stabber
  3. Lingua Ignota – Caligula
  4. Tomb Mold – Planetary Clairvoyance
  5. Sunn O))) – Life Metal
  6. Vitriol – To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice
  7. Yawning Man – Macedonian Lines
  8. Russian Circles – Blood Year
  9. Mgla – Age of Excuse
  10. Vastum – Orificial Purge

N.H.

  1. Consummation – The Great Solar Hunter
  2. Antichrist Siege Machine – Schism Perpetration
  3. Trench Warfare – Hatred Prayer
  4. HAR – Anti-Shechinah
  5. Deathspell Omega – The Furnaces of Palingenesia
  6. Bolzer – Lesse Majesty
  7. Ares Kingdom – By the Light of Their Destruction
  8. Kapala – Termination Apex

Jon Krieger

  1. Abigail Williams – Walk Beyond the Dark
  2. Schammasch – Hearts of no Light
  3. Mgla – Age of Excuse
  4. Misþyrming – Algeymi
  5. Feif – V
  6. Ultar – Pantheon MMXIX
  7. Zuriaake – Resentment in the ancient courtyard
  8. Aoratos – Gods Without Name
  9. Obsequiae – The Palms of Sorrowed Kings
  10. Falls of Rauros – Patterns in Mythology

Shawn Hache
(Mitochondrion, Auroch, Night Profound)

  1. Rome – Le Ceneri di Heliodoro
  2. Funereal Presence – Achatius
  3. Chthonic Deity – Reassembled in Pain
  4. Ioanna Gika – Thalassa
  5. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
  6. Dreams of the Drowned – S/T
  7. Warmoon Lord – Burning Banners of the Funereal War
  8. L’Epee – Diabolique
  9. Fetid – Steeping Corporeal Mess
  10. Ateiggar – Us d‘r Höll chunnt nume Zyt

Sebastian Montesi
(Mitochondrion, Auroch)

  1. Volahn – El Tigre Del Sur
  2. Blood Incantation – Hidden History Of The Human Race
  3. Ioanna Gika – Thalassa
  4. Camp.30 – Eyes Only
  5. Bölzer – Lese Majesty
  6. Freddie Joachim – Beyond The Sea Of Trees
  7. Misþyrming – Algleymi
  8. Deiphago – I, The Devil
  9. Nile – Vile Nilotic Rites
  10. Totaled – Lament

Zack Chandler
(Auroch)

  1. Witch Vomit – Buried Deep In a Bottomless Grave
  2. Nails – I Dont Want To Know You
  3. Downswing – Frequency
  4. Boy Harsher – Careful
  5. Aphex Twin – Peel Session 2
  6. Suffering Hour – Dwell
  7. Drab Majesty – Modern Mirror
  8. VR Sex – Horseplay/Human Traffic Jam
  9. Mgła – Age of Excuse
  10. Morrissey – California Son

Ian Campbell
(Crooked Mouth)

  1. Drab Majesty – Modern Mirror
  2. Lankum – The Livelong Day
  3. By the Spirits – Visions
  4. Destroying Angel – Making Beds in a Burning House
  5. L’Acephale – S/T
  6. Kinit Her- Fire Returns to Heaven
  7. VR Sex – Human Traffic Jam
  8. Witch Bottle – Forest Spell

Xavier Berthiaume
(Gevurah)

  1. Drastus – La Croix de Sang
  2. Blut Aus Nord – Hallucinogen
  3. Teitanblood – The Baneful Choir
  4. Deathspell Omega – The Furnaces of Palingenesia
  5. Mayhem – Daemon
  6. Vargrav – Reign in Supreme Darkness
  7. Departure Chandelier – Antichrist Rise to Power
  8. Krypts – Cadaver Circulation
  9. Blue Hummingbird on the Left – Atl Tlachinolli
  10. Mgla – Age of Excuse
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Review

BLOOD INCANTATION create a monolith to outlast time as we know it with “Hidden History Of The Human Race”

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.

©Alvino Salcedo Photography

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. 

©Alvino Salcedo Photography

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!

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TEITANBLOOD signals absolute Armageddon with “The Baneful Choir”

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.


Obtain this audial doomsday on CD and LP via NORMA EVANGELIUM DIABOLI as soon as your fragile constitution permits

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BLACK EARTH deliver a Pandora’s Box of torturous perfection on “Gnarled Ritual of Self Annihilation”

Fans of Abruptum and Gnaw Their Tongues take note! Black Earth present us with their sophomore release that can only be described as schizophrenia given form. Densely layered waves of noise, chaos, and pure black ambiance drown us in an ocean of blackest night, this is what a nyctophile’s nirvana sounds like! A Black Earth release is an ordeal plunging head first into the nightmare of a mind long destroyed, and emerging on the other side forever changed, if not gasping for release.

On their debut, this relatively new outfit from Spain had more of a distinct black metal framework from which they wrote their songs, but here we’re presented with a slightly different and broader palette of sounds. The atmosphere is very mechanistic, inhuman, a sort of grinding and hammering intensity that slowly works into the bestial side of your subconscious, as if SPK decided to record their debut using layers of EVP recordings from places better left not traversed.

The opener is a building industrial track that goes from a subtle churning of demonic whispers and growls into a dirge of martial drumming and chaotic wails. Like the debut, one should note this recording is neither for the timid, nor the uninitiated. If you feel an act like Abruptum or Stalaggh is too “unmusical” or extreme for you, you might want to give this a pass and steer your attention to something more palatable. This is for demonic noise fiends of the deepest order.

The crescendo of densely packed nightmares continues on throughout the album while barely giving the listener room to breathe, but there are indeed breaks of atmosphere here and there. The odd warped choir near the end of “Behold the Serpent” over the unnerving hum of some sort of generator, or the deep bassy tones of the ominous tank-like crusher that is “Drowned Under Seas of Coagulation”. Each track delves into a maelstrom of mutated voices, percussion, guitar feedback, mutilated samples and various other instruments jutting like stalagmites out of the fray. Listening to the album through and becoming more familiar with each song, one truly appreciates the attention to detail in putting together this complete work of concentrated darkness. As overwhelming as the style is at times, it is also very much structured and ingeniously each song flows, or bleeds, into the next.

Each listen to this record reveals a new layer previously unexplored. This is more than music, this is a full on exploration of what broken minds hear in their final moments, and this is really only meant for the darkest and most “alone” minds out there. A true zoetrope for demonic noise maniacs, I’m actually excited to see how this unit could take the sound and level of extremity further on future releases. Anyone looking to scour the depths of how far the black ambient genre can be taken should pick this up, now!! You can’t blame anyone but yourself, however, for whatever might be conjured afterwards!


CYCLIC LAW unleashes a CD edition of 500 copies in 4 panel digisleeve, LP edition of 200 copies on black vinyl, 100 copies on clear & black splatter in collaboration with SENTIENT RUIN.

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Obscuritae Review

MEFITIS savagely ambush with a twisted, diabolic campaign on “Emberdawn”

2019 has seen massive releases and live acts of metal titans, such gods as Blut Aus Nord and the highly anticipated release of quickly medaled veterans Blood Incantation, but there are acts slipping through the cracks of reverence within a tightly knit web of excellent releases. For one, the truly underrated Mefitis, from Oakland, California, with an absolutely stunning and transcendent debut that demands all of the attention that it is missing.

It is shocking that this release hasn’t received the deserved recognition. This entity of two complete newcomers to the scene exploded into it with all of the brilliance and veracity of seasoned veterans. Even more impressive is that the debut LP Emberdawn was both recorded and mixed by the two members of the band, Pendath, and Vatha, and the end result is nothing short of excellent. Emberdawn also features art by Turkka Rantanen, evocative of his works on early Demilich and Adramelech, fitting for the dark and twisted sound of the album.

From the very start of Emberdawn, Mefitis erupts a pernicious tide of riffs, bursting like shrapnel from the oppressive gates of the underworld with “Widdrim Hymn”. Aggressive and untamed guitar parts are broken up intermittently by contorted chorales of chaos, like hideous chants of worm winged angels. Each following song is an impressive recitation of songwriting, nothing is out of place or patched together, not written, but composed, each riff folding into each other, where the sum of all of the moving parts gestate miraculously into one bigger picture. Expert use of pedals and effects are spotted between each song, displaying Mefitis’ accomplished understanding of variance and juxtaposition, as surprises like pianos and keys creep in every so often sinking you deeper into the ambiance. The vocals keep things shifting and well composed as well, with varying screams of different styles complemented by the previously mentioned twisted choruses.

Raw and blackened aggression meet strangely beautiful yet incredibly haunting in a blend that completely defies genre, some highlights of this are the rhythmic and capering riff at the end of “Grieving the Gestalt” or the space fueled operatic section near the beginning of “Timeward Tribulations”. “Obliterating I” contains excellent use of classic black riffs, eliciting images of a darkened castle that is to be stormed by the wretched masses; “Heretical Heir” continues similar motifs, repeating riffs from the aforementioned track, adding a progressive factor to the album, adding motifs to their sound.

Although it is never directly stated that Mefitis aspired to create a concept album, all of the pieces are there, the entirely grandiose atmosphere envelops the feeling of a journey through the Hellenic underworld, you cannot help but feel as if a story is over arching over the album. “Kollosos I” leads the duo of intermission tracks with an imposing intro, similar to an epic poem of old, being shouted directly into your brain by the rattled voices of undead thralls. The second half “Kollosos II”, displays the full range of Pendath and Vatha’s chops, in a sprawling instrumental that encircles you in all of the madness and chaos of a fiery uprising. It is unfair to even try to pigeon hole the shifting moods and movements of Emberdawn, as listening to the album is adherent to viewing a painting, not a single part can speak to another, it demands to be heard and its grip will strangle your mind long after listening to it.


The CD version of this obscure slab of menacing, chaos are available now on CHAOS RECORDS.

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BLACK DEATH CULT has manifested the sanity destroying, psychedelic egregore “Devil’s Paradise”

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.


This twisted mess is available on tape and shortly on DLP via SERPENTS HEAD REPRISAL at debut gigs with REVENGE:
November 1st, Calgary, Dickens Pub
November 2nd, Edmonton, Starlite Room

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PETER BJÄRGÖ goes beyond melancholy into the dust of ruin with “Structures and Downfall”

Peter Bjärgö is a household name to anyone worthy of calling themselves an underground music fan. A name that hearkens back to a vibrant and very exciting time in music, where artists on the fringes of the metal, goth, and industrial scenes sought out labels like Cold Meat Industry and others to produce some of the most creative and unique milestones of dark ambient, post-industrial, and neoclassical darkwave.

These sounds called forth the legions of outsiders who wanted dark music without the rules, fashion, stereotypes, and restrictions that had begun to plague major underground and alternative music subcultures. His musical ventures matched the eclectic mindset of the era, whether it be with his dark apocalyptic Swedish death metal unit Crypt of Kerberos, or ventures into medieval romanticism with his most famous project Arcana, and his excursions into powerful martial industrial hymns with Sophia.

Though criminally underrated some of his strongest works were his less-known solo albums. This began with his powerful darkwave/dark ambient masterpiece Out of the Darkling Light, Into the Bright Shadow, a collaboration with Lithivm’s Gustaf Hildebrand, to his many subsequent works of slow, atmospheric darkwave. His solo efforts are usually much more personal and provide a contrast to his more grand escapist compositions with Arcana. With previous solo efforts Peter Bjärgö, had focused a large part of his work on melancholy and beauty, appealing to followers of acts like Dark Sanctuary or even Sopor Aeternus, culminating in the heart-breaking epic work Animus Retinentia.

By contrast, his latest offering Structures and Downfall is much more withdrawn and desolate sounding. The style is very similar, yet the tone and atmosphere here tend to veer away from the warm gothic-sounding melodic pieces, and into something along the lines of wandering through ruins of a half-remembered life, with a layer of dust and time obscuring the features and details of old paintings. “Inner Cathedral” welcomes us to a warm plot through the desert of existence with Peter ‘s distant chanting vocals providing a bleak narrative on the things seen and places revisited. The feeling on longing and emptiness is really a strong player on this album – a faded gallery brought to like through distant acoustic instruments, piano, and percussion that acts like a gateway from one place of remembering to the next.

Towards the second half of the album, the feeling of being alone begins to weigh down on the listener and a sense of tension and fear begins to creep more gradually into the remaining tracks, foreshadowed by the eerie haunting intro to “When Thoughts Become Your Enemy”. With acoustic guitars over cloudy ambient drones, “Dreaming of Some Purpose” brings to light the urgency of an encroaching menace, while “Disintegration of the Mind” impresses upon the listener the futility of existence and the embrace of impending inevitability, as “Winter Song” finally takes us into the quiet night, leaving our mind an empty blank space where thought and memory previously was, giving us the relief of oblivion. While it may not be quite as powerful or entrancing as The Architecture of Melancholy or Animus Retinentia, this is very much a natural progression building into the cycle set forth by those albums. A mesmerizing voyage into decay and nothingness, and the serenity of being released from the flesh. Best listened to as a whole piece of work, on a rainy autumn evening gazing out at the steel grey skies of solitude and losing yourself in nostalgia.


CYCLIC LAW will release Peter Bjärgö’s next opus on CD and LP formats, along with selections from his back catalog.

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UNDEATH ooze out two demos to redefine the death metal retro resurgence

Within the realms of death metal there are bands that represent the gravely serious depth of darkness to the gut wrenching, puke inducing gore fests, but there must come an entity that blacks out your conscious and sways your body in a violent hysteria. Undeath from New York touts a tight and technical mastery of uniquely New York death metal, relentless and nefarious. Seldom do we see metal acts that genuinely make you excited to listen to music, the kind of stuff that makes you grip your heart and pound your neck, meticulously crafted to suit your primal urges.

Undeath released 2 demos this year, one simply titled Demo ’19 and the other, Sentient Autolysis, and both are justly impressive, although the latter shows a more permanent grasp on their sound in such a short timeline. Immediately the stand out feature of Sentient Autolysis is its soiled tone, distinctively ripe with foul sludge and the stench that comes with it. The vocals are reminiscent of John McEntees signature tone of otherworldly hate spewing from the mouth of a corpse. Undeath revels in the inspirations it takes from rather than recycling their styles, improving greatly upon precedents set. The demo pounds your consciousness from front to back, each song is completely uncompromising and holds your excitement and attention, never dropping a beat for a second.

Aforementioned influences show their faces briefly throughout each track, recalling on why Undeath’s sound is so unique to New York death metal. Descending hammer on riffs on “Enhancing the Dead” and “Phantasmal Festering” are representative of Cannibal Corpse, while the acute and expeditious licks on “Pursued and Consumed” are reminiscent of early Suffocation. “Pursued and Consumed” specifically is the masterwork of the demo, thick with the atmosphere of unrelenting fear. True to the title, the song fabricates an air thick with horror and brutality, making your heart race as if you were chased down by an amalgamation of gore, there is no escape. Sharp grinding guitars near the end of the song signal your inevitable capture, as Undeath masticates your every muscle fibre, the ecstasy of bereavement overtakes you in a haze.

Demo ‘19 is not to be overlooked as well, as it contains the same competent song writing and fire of Sentient Autolysis. The major difference happens to be the production, which is more soiled and raw, but doesn’t detract from the intensity of each track – as the sheer brutality of each song carries the raw nature of the sound. “Unadorned Coffin”, is Undeath’s first act of cruelty on the demo, interweaving melodic leads and technical chugging, breaking up each short moment of atmosphere with blood spattered atrocity. “Ineffable Tumult” continues the unwavering assault, not letting a moment go by to spare your mind from cruelty, until your left with a moments peace from the velocity of Undeath with “Perverted Self Reflections”.

 Do not be fooled; the doomy searing riffs creep slowly, but its foul limbs clamber towards you briskly as the song goes on, forcing you to face the unavoidable aberration of human nature. A sinister keyboard break leads into the full force of the demos wrath, “Archfiend Coercion”, where the songwriting later displayed on Sentient Autolysis comes into its own, each riff curdling together like the remains of human effluence. As the primordial ooze fully ferments itself towards the end, your heart will be gripped with fear, sweat will coat your palms, and the primitive beating will stay compounded in your brain until you listen to it again.


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BLUT AUS NORD contort into another unheard of epoch on the grandiose “Hallucinogen”

When it comes to blurring the lines between genres Blut Aus Nord are no strangers to the concept. Setting the bar quite high for themselves with the 777 Trilogy, their newest release Hallucinogen is a step in a new direction and a valiant attempt at a reinvention of their own sound. Blut Aus Nord are veterans at walking to the beat of their own drum.

Hallucinogen wants to be a complete departure from the past and reinvention of sound, and according to the band is best described as, “a new stage in our process of perpetual regeneration”. Nevertheless, old habits die hard and fragments of the bands former self still shine through the cracks in French outfit’s most recent endeavor.

Shedding their religious themes for a slightly more ambiguous approach, Hallucinogen is beyond a doubt an atmospheric interpretation of the psychedelic experience, more often than not swapping dissonance for soaring melodies and atmosphere more akin to the likes of Mgła or, dare we say, Wolves in the Throne Room.

The album’s first track “Nomos Nebuleam” acts as a soft introduction to the deliberate change in direction the band has chosen to take with their latest release, an atmospheric and instrumental journey into the band’s new sound reminiscent of the aforementioned Poles. The album really comes into its own with tracks like “Anthosmos”  and “Mahagma”, an interesting duo more reliant on melody and emotion than anything we’ve seen from the band thus far.

At this point the album really seems to be developing towards some sort of grand climax, a pinnacle that we unfortunately find ourselves still grasping to reach at the conclusion of the album. The final two tracks, “Haallucinahlia” and “Cosma Procyiris” both have high potential, but in the end seem a bit jumbled and spontaneous, giving the impression that the band could not reach an agreement on the proper atmosphere for the end of the album, instead drawing on influences from all parties, leaving a bit to be desired in conclusion.

Halucinogen is a strong release and a welcome departure into unknown territory for Blut Aus Nord. That being said, it feels like this new soundscape they have so intricately crafted is unfinished, and there’s still a fair amount of room for growth in this medium. Perhaps a breath of fresh air for fans of Blut Aus Nord, but overall it still feels more like the first half of a two part album, a beautiful blend of melody and chaos that still allows for a great deal of development. If Blut Aus Nord decides to follow this with a sequel in the form of an epilogue, none will be the least bit surprised. The record just begins to scratch the surface of an ocean of untapped potential and a new, audible identity for the French master.


Hallucinogen will see release on digitpak CD, 2xLP, cassette, and all digital formats worldwide through DEBEMUR MORTI PRODUCTIONS. The vinyl edition will be available in four variants; black vinyl, a Debemur Morti exclusive variant, a North American exclusive variant, and a Season Of Mist exclusive variant.

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BLACK CILICE engulfs with a howling density found on “Transfixion of Spirits”

Within the genre of black metal, one which emerged, exploded, and has erupted again, a seemingly unkillable entity, there still lies a pit of utter blackness contaminated by the true and bitter underground plague. While many bands within the subterranean chasm are marred by single weak releases that are doomed at birth, there are eternal bringers of pestilence among them, Black Cilice is a project that reigns eternal in the true underground.

Boasting a hefty discography now 10 years in the making, the still unknown entity is unyielding in the pursuit of true darkness. Deeply shrouded in mystery, all details of the man behind the project are completely hidden, creating a self contained mythos and enigma that gave birth to black metal; it is a force that manifested itself upon the earth – not a creation of mortals. After a 2 year silence, Black Cilice unleashes their fifth full length upon the unsuspecting pawns of his diabolical design. Those epochs seem to have been spent in fruitful meditation on Black Cilice’s sable craft, as Transfixion of Spirits is a complete metamorphosis of his sound. Building upon the songwriting of 2017’s Banished from Time, far away are we from the primitive growling dusk of earlier releases, giving way for a transcendent new sound.

Right from the starting track, “Darkness and Fog”, a trained ear can already pick out the exultant melody, veiled behind a thick smog of cavernous production that completes the atmosphere. Deep within the cryptic mists lies a deeply structured and layered inflection, the boundless rhythm guitar section echoes into empty space, fettered by wisps of guitar leads and the ever sublime bass that unexpectedly begins to take center stage within its hymn like chants, carrying the melodies to a sublime amalgamation, each piece emulsified by the ghastly howls of wind that are the vocals.

“Maze of Spirits” takes on the feeling of claustrophobia almost immediately, bringing you down from the heights of the clouds to the darkest recesses of the earth. The mid section reveals a dirge that is reminiscent of dark dungeons, but with the atmosphere of the spectres that haunt it, intangible and fleeting. “Outerbody Incarnation” returns you right to the lofty world of spirits, filled with malign riffs and otherworldly wails, while “Revelations” wraps up the album in a dark and reflective finale that stirs the evil that sits deep in the hearts of all men.

Although only 4 songs, each is a protracted epiphany replete with grandeur, all cloaked by a shroud of supreme twilight. Black Cilice continues to show why the true underground will never cease, its relentless craft driven by empyrean forces. Hypnotic and all enveloping, Transfixation of Spirits is a ghastly triumph amongst all impostors to the black arts.


IRON BONEHEAD PRODUCTIONS is proud to present BLACK CILICE’s highly anticipated fifth album, Transfixion of Spirits, on CD, vinyl LP, and cassette tape formats.

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