Originally labeled as a mysterious Chinese outfit, Ghost Bath has taken the Depressive Black Metal/Post-Black Metal scene by surprise since their debut release “Funeral”. The band plays very raw and emotional Black Metal that instantly transmits feelings of despair and unease, unlike any other band in the world. Fast-forward 2 years since the release of their debut album, the band turned out to be from North Dakota and their sophomore release (which is even better than the fest) is currently being re-released through Nuclear Blast in June 2016.
Having played over a thousand times “Moonlover” when it first came out in 2015, it is quite impressive to see that this release still has the same effect on us after more than a year. Opening with the mysterious atmospheric elements of “The Sleeping Fields”, the album comes wide open until the blistering “Golden Number”. In this track, we can instantly hear the band’s raw emotions explode with the harsh vocals as they perfectly contrast the intense drumming and the punishing riffs. The track nicely morphs into a very unique kind of beast when the guitar leads change the tempo and the drumming because more intricate. Comparisons to the likes of Deafheaven, Bosse-de-Nage are instantly warranted, but Ghost Bath is its own unique monster.
Hailing from our cold and desolate neighbor in the north, Canada, today we have one-man battalion Feral and their solid debut release “For Those Who Live in Darkness”. Nicely combining elements from bands like Vreid, Agalloch, Inquisition into a sound that is quite raw, but still in development, this release is actually quite enjoyable. For over 60 minutes of music we can her how this young outfit tries an assortment of different things in order to find its own sound.
The atmospheric opening of “Entering Darkness” nicely leads the way as the guitar’s take center stage and delivering a pummeling and moderately intense outburst. This track has a certain Viking/Pagan Metal edge to it, making it engaging and entertaining. As “Nocturnal Queen” and “True Forgotten Beauty” come around, we can instantly hear the mixture of Agalloch and Inquisition elements into the band’s music. A better testament of the band’s interest in defining their own sound is the track “Weeping Earthbound Spirit”, which features a tense atmosphere after a killer dose of solid riffs.
Delivering over 55 minutes of superbly catchy Black/Pagan/Viking Metal, today we have France’s Vindland and their debut full-length release “Hanter Savet”. With the current influx of brilliant French bands to the Metal scene, it is not surprising that this band is a good as they are. Perfectly capturing the essence of bands like Kampfar, Windir, Thyrfing, this band has managed to craft nine excellent songs that will have you headbanging from start to end.
Opening with some great intensity, “Orin Kozh” immediately sets the pace for quite a hectic and yet melodic release. The band perfectly weaves back and forth between full-on Metal sections and more subtle Folk-ish influences. The incisive riffing is exactly what makes this release quite melodic and enjoyable, similar to what one would expect from the genre. Tracks like “Treuzwelus”, “Serr-Noz” and “Pedenn Koll” really showcase how the band excels in writing cunning songs that are quite enjoyable and satisfying.
Turning 20 years old, today we have a remastered version of Satyricon’s masterpiece “Nemesis Divina”. Considered one of the most important Black Metal albums of the history of the genre, this album marked a unique contrast between the traditional Trve Norwegian Black Metal and more refined, melodic, and lush interpretations of the genre. Many people hated the band after this ‘soft’ release, but it is as crushing as any other BM at the time. Sounding a bit better than before, Napalm Records brings back tons of memories with the re-release of this album.
As the opener “The Dawn of a New Age” delivers the line ‘This is Armageddon’, chills instantly run over our spines. The music is raw and brutal while still being elegant and better directed than other releases of the time. The novelty of this album was the mixture of slower tempos and more melodic elements as we can hear as the opener winds down and “Forhekset” rolls in. The atmospheric use of synths also adds depth to the music, while causing confusion and anger to fans of the genre’s traditional rawness.
Featuring members of several high profile Finish bands, today we have the True Black Dawn and their debut release (as TBD) titled “Come the Colorless Dawn”. Delivering 11 bestial tracks of ravaging Black Metal, this album is quite intense from start to end. Having been around since the early 90’s under two different names, this band crafts very nihilistic and tight BM soundscapes that rival any other famous band in this genre.
After warming the listener up with an intro, the album’s title track opens the proceedings with great force and brutality. The dual growls/shrieks vocal onslaught perfectly fit the music’s moody and tempo changing nature. The band’s vocalist, Wrath, is of Enochian Crescent fame, and having personally seen them live, he is one hell of a showman and an intense vocalist. The evidence is on the level of brutality shown on tracks like “The Light Goes Out” and the sinister “Cinereous”.
Crawling out of the depths of Scandinavian hell, today we have Behexen and their long awaited release “The Poisonous Path”. Featuring over 55 minutes of ravaging Black Metal, the band continues to be at the top of their game when it comes to crafting brutally raw tracks. Not for the faint of heart, this is one of the premiere BM releases of 2016.
Unleashing their hateful musical onslaught with opener “The Poisonous Path” and the intense “The Wand of Shadows”, the band creates a very oppressive atmosphere filled with crushing riffs and the demoralizing vocals of Hoath Torog. As the album progresses with songs like “Cave of the Dark Dreams” and “A Sword of Protean Fire”, we noticed that there are some atmospheric elements thrown into the mix to make the band’s music more intense and expansive.
Hailing from France, today we have the return of Southern/Stoner Black Metal outfit Glorior Belli. In “Sundwon (The Flock that Welcomes)”, the band delivers eight tracks and around 48 minutes of very crafty and completely unique music. If you are a fan of the band already, this album further refines their very unique style and you will love it, if you are just curious, be ready for a very bizarre and different musical ride.
Opening with a bang, “Lies-Strangled Skies” delivers a crushing mostly straightforward Black Metal onslaught with heavy guitars and hyper fast drums. Combining the very characteristic sound of French Black Metal with some funky melodic guitars, the band crafts a very powerful opening piece. The second track continues in the same vein, but slowly introduces some of the band’s more melodic and crafty passages near the end.
Hailing from Germany, today we have promising Black Metal trio Sun Worship and their sophomore release “Pale Dawn”. Having influences from ranging from Cascadian Black Metal to old-school Norwegian Black Metal, this band has constantly delivered killer EP and split releases which showcase their raw potential. Hitting the listener like a bag of bricks, this is one of the most intense releases of 2016.
Opening with the ravaging “Pale Dawn”, the wall of sound is instantly lifted with punishing riffs and hyper fast drumming. The band’s raw power is uncanny thanks to their piercing riffing and crushing tempo changes. While the first track has a certain USBM/Cascadian BM vibe, “Lichtenberg Features” quickly changes this with brilliant Immortal-esque riffs and melodic undertones, making it one of our favorite tracks in this release.
Arriving via Naturmacht Productions, today we have Russian duo Depciting Abysm and their monolithic sophomore release “Passage”. Featuring over 47 minutes of melancholic Atmospheric/Depressive Black/Doom Metal, this release creates the perfect shroud of musical misery. For fans of bands like Forest of Shadows, Shape of Despair, Lifelover and similar outfits, this is one album that will sound very familiar.
Opening with the 11-minute bleakness of “Shelter”, the band slowly introduces us to their sound with incisive riffs, solid harsh vocals and a very mellow tempo that just makes things even more magical. The atmospheric elements thrown into the mix greatly enhance the overall depressive experience the track delivers. On “Shadow” things continue on the Depressive Black Metal side of things with highly emotional vocals and a very powerful bass guitar line. This track reminds us a bit of outfits like Lifelover.
Allegedly formed in Svalbard, Norway (but since then relocated to Germany), today we have hyper-raw Black Metal outfit Znafelriff and their crushing 5-song EP titled “Ruin”. Crafting their sound to be as raw and DYI as possible, the band actually manages to create some very old-school sounding music that will infuse nightmares to the uninitiated.
Opening with the old-school Satyricon-esque “Heisere Stille”, the band instantly creates a dark shroud of distortion and rawness around their sound. The recording quality is decent enough to be able to tell all the elements apart, but raw enough to sound trve kvlt. The same rawness is continued with the Immortal-esque “Ruin”, however, the sound quality seems to have become even more trve as we needed to raise the volume on our speakers to continue to enjoy this release.