As to be expected from a Osmose Productions release, “Stigmata Mali” showcases Funeral Winds at their most devastating and demoralizing. Spewing eight tracks and nearly 35 minutes of punishing music, this release is crushing and powerful with a certain pestilent sound of 90’s raw Black Metal. If you are a fan of raw, uncompromising, and punishing music, this is certainly the release for you.
Blasting off with “Open the Wounds”, the first noticeable thing is the buzzing distorted guitars and hellish mixture of vocals, courtesy of the band’s founder Hellchrist Xul. The pace suddenly changes thanks to blistering onslaughts of brutality, particularly as the opener transitions into tracks like “Stigmata Mali”, “By These Hands, by Your Command”, and “Odious Emanations”.
Creating one of the most majestic Atmospheric Post-Black/Doom Metal releases of recent days, today we have Great Cold Emptiness and their third full-length release “Immaculate Hearts Will Triumph”. Brilliantly blending dramatic atmospherics with crushing vocals and highly melancholic passages, this release is as cathartic as they come. If you enjoy bands like Germ, Violet Cold, Alcest, etc., this outfit should become your new favorite band.
Opening with the brilliant “The Patron Saint of Whalewatching”, we get the traditional lush keyboards and heavy guitars combination but with a very dramatic emphasis on dreamy atmospheres and ravishing vocals, courtesy of Meghan Wood. The Germ vibe is quite high, but it shifts as Doom and purely atmospheric elements are thrown into the mix. The track “To Die for the Ideal” is the perfect example of this, as its moody tempo changes and dreamy atmospherics are unrivaled.
As one of the most underrated Black Metal bands from Norway, Tulus carved a path with excellent releases in the late 90’s and went on hiatus for a while. With their music being raw and punishing, one can argue that Tulus should have been as recognized as Darkthrone, Immortal, Satyricon and Enslaved. With that signature frosty and incisive brand of BM, the band has nicely baked Black’n’roll elements into their sound to create superbly catchy music, and “Fandens kall” is a brilliant example of this.
Opening with the album title track, Blodstrup and Sarke waste no time to unleash waves of vicious riffs, nicely enveloped in highly melodic passages and a hellish snarl. The band’s core sound is simple and yet quite effective, keeping the old-school Scandinavian Black Metal sound alive while delivering bangers like “Lek”, “Slagmark”, and the chaotic “Allstøtt”. Perfectly balancing funky melodies with the sinister bass guitar of Crowbel, the band creates some engaging and yet powerful tracks like “Isråk” and the Darkthrone-esque “Snømyrkre”.
Delivering waves of melancholic guitar leads and demoralizing Doom riffs. Today we have Greece’s Oceans of Grief with the excellent “Pale Existence”. Clocking in at 47 minutes, this release feels like a genetically engineered mixture of Insomnium with Hanging Garden, creating seven crushing songs. If you are a fan of the genre, this band perfectly balances melody, melancholy, and musicianship in one extremely polished package.
Opening with “Poetry For The Dead”, the band sets a very somber mood with atmospheric keyboards and crafty melodic passages. As the band warms up, “Dale of Haunted Shades” and “Unspoken Actions” perfectly deliver that blend of Melodic Death Metal with Death/Doom tempos, creating very cinematic and lush aural experiences. The third track even features Jari Lindholm of Enshine unleashing some excellent weeping guitar leads.
Delivering a quick and swift blow to the listener's morale, today we have Vermineux and Prieuré unleashing a hellish split release with two tracks from each band. Showcasing some of their most promising bands, Purity Through Fire created a very unique pairing and the perfect teaser with this release. If you like hellish and punishing Black Metal, this release will introduce you to two very interesting one-man battalions.
Opening the split we have Vermineux, hailing from the USA, and its crushing “Ashes” track. With a piercing lo-fi production, the BM riffing in this track is excellent and it pairs wonderfully with Spectre’s intense shrieks. The second track is a pretty decent cover of “Holocaust to the Natural Darkness” from Vlad Tepes, again showcasing raw power around a gritty sound.
Always surprising their listeners, Enslaved returns with yet another brilliant exercise in crafty Progressive Black/Viking Metal with “Heimdal”. Skillfully refining their sound over time, this release unleashes seven tracks and nearly 50 minutes of complex and yet digestible music that perfectly carries the band’s signature style with a few new surprises. Any fan of the band of the genre will be satisfied with this highly dynamic and engaging release.
Opening with “Behind The Mirror”, the band sets an atmospheric tone with the first minute before unleashing some superbly catchy riffs that slowly transform into sweeping melodic guitars to adorn the band’s signature clean vocal arrangements. The band’s sound is quite cinematic and crafty, with excellent layered guitars and a good dose of aggressive sections and growls, as we can hear in “Congelia”,”Forest Dweller” and the proggy/psychedelic catchiness of “Kingdom”.
Unleashing a masterful Atmospheric Black Metal masterpiece, today we have Italy’s Morwinyon and their sophomore release “Wastelands”. Featuring both members of Falaise, this band is more of an outlet for more traditional Atmospheric BM without (too much of) the shoegaze and Post-BM elements. Think more along the lines of Saor and Winterfylleth, with tons of atmospherics. If you are a fan of the genre, the band manages to deliver quite engaging and immersive tracks that will transport you for a magical forty-plus minutes.
The release kicks-off with towering atmospheric keyboards and the crafty riffs of “Devouring Flames”. There is a certain ethereal mood that quickly sets, even after the harsh vocals and aggressive drumming start to gain momentum. The release is very well mixed, with the atmospheric layer front and center, while the guitars and screams provide additional textures and change the tempos, as we can hear on “Wastelands” and “An Agonized Look”, both of which remind us a bit of Lustre.
Mostly stable line-ups and consistency have been the fundamental pillars behind Insomnium and their music. For “Anno 1696” the band continues to deliver their highly melancholic Melodic Death Metal but with a few additional elements that nicely revamp their signature style and keeps it fresh. The majority of die-hard fans for the band will find what they want here, but it also provides that little extra that for some of us that were looking for something a bit different.
Opening with “1696” we get mood setting clean guitars and atmospherics that quickly transform into Melodic Death Metal bliss with the signature Insomnium riffing. However, the band chooses to go faster rather than safe and typical, creating a bit of a different pace before settling into their traditional superbly melodic leads and headbanging passages. Having a couple of guests like Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ) and Johanna Kurkela on “White Christ” and “Godforsaken” respectively, gives the band a different edge while still oozing melancholy.
Immediately doing a double take to figure out if Garm from Ulver was singing on this one, Anatomy of Habit unleashes their latest release “Black Openings”. Creating a very unique and intricate atmosphere, this release delivers over 38 minutes of an experimental amalgamation of Doom, Post-Punk, Drone, and a few other genres. If you like hypnotic music with singular vocals and crafty instrumentation, you can’t miss out on this one.
Opening with the engaging “Black Openings”, the band quickly sets a very mellow mood that slowly progresses as it hooks the listener with its mystery. As Mark Solotroff vocals come on, the listener will immediately think of Ulver as he sounds just like Garm. However, this is not the only stand-out element from the music as it brilliantly layers tons of elements like a vibraphone, lap steel, and analog synths to create a nice and warm loungey vibe.
Creating a truly unique and somewhat demented release, today we have the enigmatic The Lovecraft Sextet and their latest EP “Black†White”. Featuring two tracks of pure jazzy madness, this EP delivers a digestible entry into the highly mysterious and chaotic world of Jason Köhnen. Filled with atmospheric weirdness, this release is certainly not for the close minded, as it embarks the listener on an aural journey.