Confession: I am a big, big Winterfylleth fan. Its brand of black metal possess a strain of pride and emotion that few other bands can compete with, and the intelligent, dignified manner in which it has conducted itself over its career to date is worthy of praise. For all that, there has been the sense for this writer that the band has never quite reached the heights it was capable of, that a certain something was missing from its previous albums, as excellent as they are. As such, I had some trepidation when approaching The Divination Of Antiquity: would it be the album that lived up to my hopes for the band? As it so happens, it does more than that. This album is an absolute triumph.
Charlottesville, Virginia is college town known for Dave Matthews band and its Jazz circles, but in the heart of Virginia resides Salvaticus, one of few black metal bands dedicated to capturing the natural sound of the forests and mountains of Piedmont and Appalachia. I’m meeting with founding members Brian Weaver (guitar) and Kevin Ardrey (drums) to discuss the music, the scene, and the band’s debut album Hidden Manna.
Label(s): Dark Descent Records & Iron Bonehead Productions Release Date: 7/28/14
Baphomet Pan Shub-Niggurath, the second full-length album from death metallers Unaussprechlichen Kulten, is leagues better than the band’s debut. There’s a restrained proficiency in the musicianship on display here, a sense of melody and catchier songwriting chosen instead of over-the-top brutality that some bands use with monotony throughout the genre. The music is a tight execution of stellar riffs and quality interplay between members of the band. It’s been on my playlist for weeks on end.
Is the title of your latest album, Clearing the Path to Ascend somehow analogous to what the band is going through lately? Do you feel like it marks a high point in your career?
As far as the song title and lyrics go, it’s me writing about where I’m at, and usually it has a lot of different meanings. As far as where this album sits in our catalogue and if it’s as good as or not as good as or whatever, we don’t really think in those terms so much, we just do the best that we can with it and then the people that like us individually decide for themselves where it sits so far it seems like the response has been really good and so we’re happy with that.
Release Date: 6/5/14
I figure I’ll get the easy things about this record out of the way to make room for the meat. A majority of you will not like this album. That’s just a simple fact. It might not be as divisive as other black metal bands that have come around in the last few years, with the genre-bending and distinctively leftist ecology themes, but this VI : Flora is not a populist album by any stretch of the imagination. Flora is as mysterious and dense as a David Lynch film. It’s not meant to be an easy listen and it might not even be a great record, but it’s interesting and strikingly listenable. The manner in which it’s crafted seems to demand multiple spins. Like Lynch, this is the vision of a single person – and like Lynch, that can either come off as pretentious and self-aggrandizing or a work of genius. This is all depending on your mood or what you’re expecting as “entertainment.”
Label: Self-released Release Date: 5/16/14
Every now and then, a band comes along and raises the bar a little bit higher. With the release of Hidden Manna, Salvaticus may have set a new standard for independently produced black metal. While the name is Latin for “savage,” the music is anything but. Fundamentally, this is atmospheric black metal, but more aggressive than what’s typical of the style. It is melodic in essence, but heavy when it wants to be. Crisp while maintaining a desirable level of rawness. In short, what we have here is an album that spans a broad range, carefully arranged such that nothing is over saturated.
Label(s): Fallen Empire Records, Amor Fati & Ordo MCM Release Date: 4/2/14
From the opening notes of Adversarialism, it’s obvious that this two track demo is yet another attempt to release a “True Norwegian” style album in the 21st century. Many try and few succeed, as bands like LVTHN are faced with the impossible task of creating something that’s both genuine and original in 2014. Most end up sounding like Burzum/Darkthrone copycats and unfortunately, this release is no exception. The repetitive, hypnotic guitars and clipped vocals were brilliant when Varg executed them 18 years ago on Filosofem, but every subsequent clone diminishes the effect.
Label: Pulverised Records Release Date: 6/16/14
From Sweden with love. I love Swedeath like any true death metal fan should. Under the Church is a young band from Edsbyn, Sweden, and the band’s latest release for Pulverised Records is the subject of my careful examination.
Label(s): 20 Buck Spin & Iron Lung Records
Release Date: 9/2/14
Jon Kortland has been busy man. Between this massive bit of headfuckery from Pig Heart Transplant and his ‘day job’ in Iron Lung, which released the Savagery 7” within a few weeks of each other, it’s like a holiday for folks who revel in his (and Jensen Ward’s) brand of highly unmarketable music. For Mass Consumption weaves early industrial, powerviolence, harsh noise and a bit of good old-fashioned soundtrack scoring into a nightmare. A nightmare in 44 second increments.
Label: Les Acteurs de l’ombre Productions Release Date: 4/16/14
For the past decade, France’s atmospheric/post-black metal scene has been nothing but enviable. While the majority of the bands have evolved to sound more “post” than “black,” The Great Old Ones has managed to gain some distinction by setting itself on the other side of the spectrum. In 2010 the band surprised us greatly with its very unique and atmospheric debut Al-Azif, where alternate picking and blast beats predominated, but still leaving enough space for reverberated, layered and clean guitar interludes. The idea of portraying H.P. Lovecraft’s works through post-black metal couldn’t be better, and Al-Azif felt extremely refreshing in that regard. However, as much as it felt dark and menacing, it also felt reserved and hesitant; it lacked those tense, climactic qualities that characterize both post-metal and Lovecraft’s works. Tekeli-Li is a huge step forward, pushing its stylistic boundaries even further to create a more cohesive and engaging album.
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