Oozing malevolence and piercing riffs, today we have Ireland’s Valais and their self-titled debut release out in CD and tape format through Signal Rex. While Black Metal bands are a dime a dozen these days, there are only a handful, like this one, that bring the genre to life with gusto and a piercing precision.
A cavernous mood is nicely set with the opener “I”, a track that suddenly changes gears and delivers blistering drumming alongside crushing riffs. The hellish shrieks perfectly fit the band’s sinister nature as pieces like “III” demonstrate with a slower and creepier pace. Similar to outfits like The Ruins of Beverast and Urfaust, we particularly enjoy this style where pace, aggression, and varied vocal styles create unsettling atmospheres.
Unleashing over 45 minutes of soul-crushing Black Metal today we have Serpent Noir and Sargeist with a split release titled “Transcendental Black Magic”. With none of the bands needing any introductions, this release is a very swift and brutal way to start the year, thanks to both bands unraveling some truly punishing tracks.
The split starts with Greece’s Serpent Noir and their sinister and more rudimentary approach to the genre, with “Throne Of Satanas”, the band sets a creepy mood with their eerie vocal arrangements alongside epic guitar leads and crafty drumming. As “Endless Night of Lilith” and “Epiklisis Tou Eosforou” roll around, we can see the band’s ability to craft well paced tunes filled with devilish melody.
As one of the most anticipated 2022 releases for us, “Hymn To The Woeful Hearts” takes Pure Wrath’s music to a whole new level. Delivering over 44 minutes of highly atmospheric and very emotional Black Metal music, this album perfectly channels the fury and intensity of the band’s earlier releases with a hefty dose of melancholy and refinement.
Wasting no time in asserting itself, “The Cloak of Disquiet” opens with a very solemn and short intro as it quickly morphs into raw aggression thanks to blistering drumming and crushing harsh screams. We particularly love how the melodic arrangements quickly blend into the waves of brutality the band puts forth, as pieces like “Years of Silence” and “Presages From A Restless Soul” clearly show. There is great skill in being able to have such masterful transitions without sounding forced or abrupt.
Just like no time has passed since their last release…sixteen years ago, Germany’s Mystic Circle returns with their explosive brand of Melodic Black/Death Metal. With their eponymous release, the band continues their journey unleashing nearly 50 minutes of high-octane music. For the uninitiated, this band was torching stages with their unique sound back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s before splitting up for quite a while.
There is a certain charm to the sound behind those legendary late 90’s early 2000’s Melodic Black/Death Metal releases from bands like Catamenia, Agathodaimon, Siebenbürgen, Old Man's Child, etc, and this release perfectly captures it as “Belial Is My Name” delivers its first notes. The melodic nature of pieces like “Seven Headed Dragon” and “Letters from the Devil”, give that devilish sinister vibe the band has imprinted in their early releases.
On their first release as part of Nuclear Blast Records, France’s Celeste unleashes “Assassine(s)”, a vibrant 40+ minutes release blending their Black Metal with Post-Metal/Sludge influences. The band creates a very unique and punishing sound, filled with harsh vocals and crafty riffing, creating an unparalleled wall of sound and destruction.
The release fully kicks off with the intricate drumming of “Des torrents de coups”, which leads way to incisive guitars and crafty tempo changes. Picture listening to Cult of Luna with an Amenra edge. As the riffing barrage fully warms up, tracks like “De tes yeux bleus perlés”, “Nonchalantes de beauté”, and “Draguée tout au fond”, further develop the band’s massive sound with piercing onslaughts of crushing guitar work.
Pumping freshness into the Atmospheric/Depressive Black Metal genre, today we have newcomers Silhouette and their disarming debut release “Les Retranchements”. With a well defined core of BM onslaughts and harsh vocals, the band adds a layer of angelic female vocals to create a very powerful and effective mix. Think of the short-lived Asphodèle but with a more depressive/atmospheric edge.
Opening with “Ascension”, a very dreamy mood is set thanks to subtle guitars and Lilas Dupont’s siren-like vocals. The band’s elements mesh quite well, as tracks like “La Première Neige” deliver the ferocity some expect with relentless aggressive onslaughts, perfectly flanked by slower and dreamier passages, creating a very bleak soundscape. Keeping things simple and direct, pieces like “Au Seuil de l'Oubli” and “L'Etreinte de la Chute” are quite melancholic and magical.
Creating a very unique and timeless-sounding release, today we have Finland’s The Mist from the Mountains and their eponymous debut full-length album. Mixing elements from old-school Borknagar and Arcturus with the ferocity and melody of the modern Black Metal of bands like Uada and Mgła, this release delivers nearly 40 minutes of pure musical bliss.
After a folky build up, “Empyrean Fields” grows into an all-out head banging section with catchy riffs and intense drumming. Here is where that Mgła/Uada melodic (and yet blistering) style blends into the band’s late 90’s/early 2000’s Nordic BM influences as pieces like “A Paean to Fire” and “Thus Spake the Tongueless Serpent” deliver that dynamism that soaring clean vocals and crafty instrumental and atmospheric arrangements bring to the table.
Unleashing the perfect mixture of atmosphere and crushing aggression, today we have newcomers Vastatum and their debut full-length release “Mercurial States of Revelation”. Hailing from Canada, this duo has crafted a very unique mixture of old-school Scandinavian Black Metal with a modern and melodic twist that needs to be heard.
Opening with the momentum builder “Nascent Mother of Night”, the listener is treated to an enveloping atmosphere led by melodic guitar riffs and sinister malice. The eerie mixture of clean and harsh vocals greatly enhances the atmosphere, creating a cavernous vibe similar to The Ruins of Beverast alongside a more straightforward instrumentation. This whirlwind experience is masterfully carried forward on pieces like the “Fall With Seclusion” and the devilish “Mortal Abrogation”.
Unleashing waves of Vampiric Black Metal, today we have Australia’s Krvna and their debut full-length release “Sempinfernus”. With over 35 minutes of intense music, this release reminds us of early Dimmy Borgir, Old Man’s Child, and similar outfits, filled with atmosphere and harshness. For a one-man project, this release packs a mean punch and high replay value.
Opening with the sinister “From The Shades Of Hades…”, the atmosphere immediately feels tense and eerie thanks to blistering drumming, intricate guitar work and devilish vocals. Things turn a bit more melodic and less chaotic with the melodic onslaughts of “...To The Targovistean Night”, contrasted by its punishing aggressive sections. We are suckes for epic melodies and the track “The Triumph Of The Flesh Over The Spirit” is one fine piece of melodramatic guitar work.
By far one of the most productive musicians in the Metal scene, Déhà’s creativity is probably just bounded by time as he continues to unleash massive albums under his solo project, Wolvennest, Slow, and plenty of other bands. In “Ave Maria II”, he continues work he released over 10 years ago under his side project Yhdarl. Featuring one monumental track of 42 minutes, this release is both haunting and completely harrowing, mixing up dense atmospherics, punishing screams and all mighty riffs.
Separated into two movements, the first part, “Morituri Te Salutant” sets a very cavernous mood that suddenly turns with the introduction of Thergothon-level distorted riffs alongside dramatic vocal arrangements, similar to what Elend did in the past, but with a heavier dose of distortion. The angelic female vocals are masterfully flanked with incisive guitars and massive growls/screams, perfectly turning beauty into nightmare.