Being the most anticipated 2016 release at Infernal Masquerade, we have been sitting on writing this review for a few weeks to fully digest and process this album. Hailing from Germany, Todtgelichter started playing somewhat straightforward Black Metal until they started experimenting with other influences since their 2010 release “Angst”. From that release and to these days, the band has managed to craft a very unique blend of experimental/Avant-garde Black Metal that is completely disarming and emotionally raw. If you liked the band’s last two releases, you will be in for a treat with this one.
The album opens with the emotionally charged “Ghost” and its brilliant atmospheric elements. This track perfectly contrasts harsh and clean vocals while slowly building up the tempo with intricate drumming and lush atmospheric details. Continuing the emotional rollercoaster, the rawness of the opening of “Scherin” nicely transforms with all-out Post-Rock/Shoegazey melodic passages perfectly adorned by Marta’s iconic voice. This is one of the band’s best tracks to date due to the perfect contrast of heavy and melodic elements.
Out now on Russian label Haarbn Productions, today we have Narjahanam and their sophomore release “Wa Ma Khufiya Kana A’atham”. This two man beast of a band hails from Baharain and crafts some seriously atmospheric Middle-Eastern themed Black/Death Metal, rivaling acts like Melechesh and AlNamrood. We are quite impressed with the quality behind this this release and how it engages the listener with its lush atmospheric undertones.
Building a very dramatic momentum with the opener album titled track, they set a very mysterious shroud around this whole release thanks to their atmospheric arrangements. Quickly establishing their band’s power, Mardus and Busca, craft very melodic tracks like “Kahf Al Khulood” and “Qudoom Al Sultan” keeping the listener engaged while still processing their unique sound.
Arriving today all the way from Portugal we have Ocerco and their crushing EP “A Desolação”. Delivering three songs of ravaging Post-Black Metal with some Doom influences, this band nicely blends the aggressiveness of Abigail Williams (newer stuff) and the atmospheric brilliance of Wolves in the Throne Room.
Slowly building up with the brutal “O Calpso”, the band perfectly times their dissonant onslaughts to surprise the listener. The atmosphere is superbly dark and very heavy, thanks to the aggressive wall of sound created by the powerful riffs. “O Ocaso” takes a more direct approach to things, instantly getting on the listener’s face with howling shirks and growls as well as blistering drumming. The band’s ability to quickly escalate (or down-shift) their aural assaults is quite impressive.
Spewing their Black Metal poison, today we have Greek outfit Heretic Cult Redeemer and the re-release of their 2013 debut full-length self-titled release. Delivering seven punishing acts of BM devastation, this band sets a very sinister mood while beating the listener to a pulp with their crafty riffing and demoralizing vocals.
As the opener “Crawling Hope” delivers the first blows, the band delivers waves of traditional BM riffs with fuzzy distortion and sickening vocals. Mixing in some solid headbanging moments in their music, allows HCR to crafty catchy and memorable tracks like “The Oldest of Times” and the very melodic “Bleeding of the Giant Sun”. The band’s command of the Black Metal arts is infused in the sinister oppressive atmosphere of songs like “Destiny of Death” and its super catchy yet firm riffage.
Arriving with great hype and praise, today we have Germany’s Ketzer and their third full-length release titled “Starless”. Delivering a hefty mixture of Black Metal, Thrash Metal and some Post/ Hard Rock elements, this release comes under its own terms and with its unique sound that further expands the band’s musical range. Considerably more creative than most albums these days, the hype is real when it comes to this outfit.
Opening with the playful and Black’n’Roll-ish “Starless”, we are treated to a mixture of Aura Noir and Vreid thanks to catchy riffs and a very crafty tempo. Things get more awesome with the uber catchiness of “Godface” and its very direct attitude. This song reminds us a bit of Tribulation, but with the Ketzer signature. Continuing with the surprises, the heavy “Count to Ten” has a good dose of sinister riffs and that obscure BM atmosphere that bands like Satyricon seamlessly create.
Hailing from Romania, today we have Siculicidium and the 2015 Sun & Moon Records re-release of their 2007 EP “Lélekösvény”. As the legitimate spreaders of Transylvanian Black Metal, this band delivers nine crushingly raw hymns that sound like a mixture of Immortal, Dark Throne, Satyricon, amongst others.
Opening with the raw fuzziness of “Az Erdõ Szelleme: we instantly settle into a very low-fi quality release that is pretty visceral and in your face. The brutal intensity of tracks like “Lelkem Némasága” and “Ösvények, Csillagok” remind us of the old days of Osmose and Moonfog Productions releases of unknown bands that had a competition of who had the most ravaging and authentic low-quality production. The band’s musical core is quite competent and manages to create intricate songs that are quite appealing and are far from dated by today’s standards.
Hailing from Finland, today we have one man demolition machine Coldbound and its latest release “Rites Under Moonlight”. Featuring 10 tracks and over 50 minutes of hauntingly aggressive and atmospheric music, this release crushes the opposition with gut-wrenching shrieks and the perfect balance of raw brutality with melodic/atmospheric creepiness.
After the typical intro, we are left with the throbbing bass guitar line of “Fullmoon Delirium” and its very sinister BM-infused riffing. As the band delivers the atmospheric creepiness of tracks like “Origins of Black Sun” and “Fullmoon Delirium”, we are quite impressed with Råbjørn’s ability to switch between BM, Doom, and purely atmospheric passages in as seamless manner. Another great example of this is the blistering “Devil's Universe”.
Continuing ‘their’ experimental journey, one-man behemoth Spectral Lore returns with a hefty Middle Eastern inspired release titled “Gnosis”. Labeled as an EP, but clocking in at nearly 50 minutes, this release moves away from the extremely experimental nature of “Voyager” and moves into territories of bands like Melechesh, Myrath, and Orphaned Land.
Opening with the ravaging “Dualism”, we are instantly directed to a journey of guitar driven Melodic Black Metal with some very subtle hints of Middle Eastern inspired elements. The vocals are not traditionally delivered and only spawn some shrieks and whispers, adding extra mysticism to this release. As the album slowly progresses into the melodic brilliance of “Gnosis’ Journey Through the Ages”, we are greatly enjoying the ethereal atmospheric elements that further enhance the engaging riffing and intricate bass guitar line.
Always pushing the envelope, French bands have managed to craft some of the most interesting Metal albums of the past few years. Today is the turn for Necroblaspheme and their crushing Atmospheric mixture of Black/Death/Sludge Metal, on their third full-length release “Belleville”. Featuring members and ex-members of Glaciation, this outfit delivers a very unique sounding mixture of elements that will entertain all fans of any of the genres they combine.
Opening with the dissonant riffs of “Rempart”, the band crafts a very thick and sickening atmosphere that weaves back and forth between aggressive vocals and catchy guitar melodies. As “Le discours du bitumen” and the instrumental “How Did We Get There” roll in, we start to see the band’s true intentions with their highly aggressive wall of sound that brilliantly transforms over the duration of each track.
Being one of the finest Atmospheric Black Metal bands in the scene, Blaze of Sorrow returns with yet another excellent release with “El Eremita del Fuoco”. Filled with brilliant melodic passages, this album reminds us of the earlier Alcest stuff mixed with some older Agalloch as well. Clocking in at around 40 minutes, this is one of the best releases of the genre in 2015.
Opening with the ethereal “La Conquista del Cielo”, the band sets a very melancholic mood early in this release. Featuring very subtle atmospheric elements and bleak soundscapes, the track nicely explodes into BM riffs that are more melodic than aggressive. Continuing strong, “La Madre” is a bit more aggressive and playful with very well defined drum patterns and headbanging passages.