Tag Archives: black metal

The Stone: Serbia’s black metal pride for over 20 years

Metal music, like any cultural expression, is shaped by its surroundings. The Stone hails from Serbia and started out in 1996, in the wake of the black metal boom. Not much later the Yugoslavian civil war broke out, turns out this is actually audible on their debut record.

This did not put any breaks on the band though. The Stone has been going steady for more than 20 years, creating a steady output of records with classic black metal. Their sound is powerful, without trying to sail along with any trends or movements, simply black metal.

The band has recently released a new album, titled ‘Teatar Apsurda’. That and seeing them live was reason enough for me to get in touch and ask some questions to singer Nefas and guitar player Kozeljnik.

Serbian black metal kings

How are you guys doing?
Nefas: Not bad.
Kozeljnik: Doing fine so far. Busy with promoting the new album we’ve recently put out.

For people who are not familiar with The Stone, can you tell a bit about how the band got together originally?

Nefas: Classic story…that begins in 1996. We were just kids who wanted to play music they like. The Stone is some kind of artistic pact between Kozeljnik, as the composer, and me, as the lyric writer. It works last 22 years…and it works fine so far.
Kozeljnik: Back in time of our gathering the initial idea was to form the band, the entity of Black Metal which defines the art within uncompromised line of musical and lyrical expression.

Many black metal bands go through periods of lesser inspiration, sometimes years, before releasing new albums. The Stone has consistently been delivering new music at regular intervals over the last 2 decades. What is the drive or motivation behind the band that makes you keep on delivering top class music?

Nefas: Simply, we really enjoy creating the music. Some kind of artistic madness drives us…

Kozeljnik: A sort of creative appeal madness which takes us every time when the art leads the way to the upper states of creativity. It’s not a cliché when saying you are dealing with a certain kind of ritualization of your art. It’s the rite of your subconscious which delivers magic.

In line with that, you also all have plenty of side-projects. Can you say a bit about those and how do you keep those going at the same time?

Nefas: Actually, I never had a side-project. Kozeljnik always had a surplus of ideas he presented through his other bands/projects like Kozeljnik, Murder, May Result, Occulus

Kozeljnik: Sometimes the creativity extends the defined lines, so there’s a need of having other artistic sources, like different bands and projects where you can execute your ideas, is a natural step for the artist.

Your latest release is Teatar Apsurda, which is your eight full length. What can you tell about this album, it’s creative process and it’s message/expression? To me, the title itself might be a good reflection of the world at large in at this time, is that something that you took along in creating this album.

Nefas: Yes, Teatar Apsurda is a view of the world through the eyes of pessimist, satiric review of human grotesqueness. It’s fast, aggressive, intensive black metal, yet chaotic and epic in the same time. We are very satisfied with this album. Definitely, our best shot so far.

Kozeljnik: We’re about to say that after many years we finally recorded the album the exact way we wanted to sound. It’s not that we are displeased with previous works, but this new one simply transcends our expectations.

How do you guys go about creating an album? Is it a similar process for every record? Since there’s definitely a continuity in your sound and the overall feel of music from The Stone through the years. What does the process look like?

Nefas: First and the most important step would be making a vision, the common vision that will be driven with no compromise. Everything else would be just a routine after all these years. It just got out of us.

Kozeljnik: On the other side every new record has a different perspective of creating, a dimension which goes beyond the borders we’ve delivered for the previous ones. It’s a challenge, to express your inner state within the new, refreshing ideas and forms which are, at the same time, carrying the mark of your own identity. We decided not to walk the familiar footsteps, but still keeping the same path.

Your record is out on Mizantropean Records, is that your own label? What prompted you to release through Mizantropean instead of Folter records, which you’ve released the previous albums?

Nefas: We wanted to have an absolute control and freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want. Mizantropeon Records is our own label formed primarily to provide better work conditions for The Stone. And for the beginning, we are very satisfied indeed.

Kozeljnik: It’s not a secret if we say that bands and labels are natural enemies since the creation of music business, especially when it comes to controlling the freedom of creativity. After many years of dealing with other labels, we have decided to be enemies to ourselves, trying to control something which hardly can be controlled. So far, we do not regret our moves.

In your early days you used Slavic paganism as inspiration, later it was more nihilism, misanthropy… In an earlier interview, I read that you expressed that these were never meant literally, but more a starting point for your expression. Can you explain how that looks for both the paganism and the more recent themes? What is the idea you try to put into your music and what do you hope listeners take from it?

Kozeljnik: The Stone’s lyrical side was most of the time misinterpreted in the past, especially by the non-speaking Serbian media circles which declared our band as pagan just because our 2nd and 3rd albums deal with times before monotheism took its role. Judging from that point of view they can easily proclaim Mayhem as a pagan metal band, just because they have a song called Pagan Fears. Not so professional way of giving a conclusion. Anyway, we’ve never considered our band as pagan oriented, despite the fact that in the past we used heathen inspired lyrics which were based on Nefas’s individual approach strictly. His quill has the most significant poetic role in expressing The Stone’s message and definitely, it’s a powerful tool in the band’s arsenal.

The Stone started out as Stone To Flesh during the time when your part of the world was in a total uproar due to the civil war. As I’ve understood from previous interviews and other articles, the scene in Yugoslavia was just beginning to appear at that time. I’d like to ask you how that scene started out and which bands were instrumental in it and how the civil war influenced it and you as a band in your ability to create music. Can you tell about that?

Nefas: The civil war has changed many things in our lives, but I’m not sure it had any influence on our music in a creative way, maybe on our subconscious. Technically speaking, everything was harder to do in war surrounded country, isolated…, but we survived. On our first album, we included the intro, the true sound of NATO bombs falling on Belgrade heating a plant. That’s the exact piece of the warlike atmosphere in which we worked on our debut album.

What’s happening in the current Serbian metal scene? And is it in any way connected to the neighboring countries of former Yugoslavia or are you drawn more towards other countries? Which bands should people really check out from the current scene (and why)?

Nefas: We never had a massive scene, but we have some quality bands to mention. My personal favorite is deathrash legion Infest. As for black metal, try with Kolac, Zloslut, Wolf’s Hunger, Samrt

What does it mean for The Stone to be a band from Serbia? Is there something typical and unique that you take from your culture, history or even nature in your country that to your view, colors or impacts the way you and/or other bands from Serbia make this sort of music?

Nefas: We took the pillar of our culture, Serbian language. Native language gives you the opportunity to express yourself better.

Kozeljnik: Serbian language, with its strong accent, gives us more radical, yet aggressive audible approach to the art we create. During the years we’ve created our own style and usage of our native tongue definitely has a strong impact on that.

Black metal has been gradually changing and taking new forms in recent years. I’m interested to know, what to you defines black metal? Is it something ritualistic, does it need to be ugly or can it be beautiful… How would you define this music now, after having played it for so long?

Nefas: For me, Black Metal is the art of controlling sonic madness in order to make the obscure atmosphere suitable for expressing the negativity and narrating the inner gloom. It’s the darkest corner of musical art.

What future plans does The Stone have at the moment? What are you aiming for in 2018 or will this be a time for the side projects (if so, what are you focussing on)?

Nefas: We have tour plans with Inferno and IXXI settled for March and after that we will enter the studio to record 2 new songs for the upcoming 7”ep. That’s the plan for next six months.

If you had to compare The Stone to a dish or type of food, what would it be and why?

Nefas: A piece of bread and a glass of water, if you are hungry, you will enjoy it.

Is there anything you’d like to add? Please add it below.

Nefas: Nothing more, the point is said. Just to thank you for the support.

Underground Sounds: Flešš – Frenzied Bloodlust Underneath A Black Moon

Label: Les Fleurs du Mal Productions
Band: Flešš
Origin: Canada

Vampiric metal is a very specific undercurrent within the black metal movement.The unholy blood drinking entities inspire groups like Flešš (pronounced flesh) to develop unique sounds that express the harrowing nature of these monsters. This leads to listening material that often is out of the ordinary. Truly unnatural.

Originating from Canada, this is is the second release from the mysterious raw black metal entity, that you’d best listen to at night. Nothing else I can tell you about the origin of the record, which I find rather unpleasantly mysterious.

The raspy nature of the opening riffs on ‘Frenzied Bloodlust Underneath A Black Moon’, the opening track of two songs on this album, are like the scraping of tombstones in the dark. Eerie keys and sound effects add to the uncanny feeling you’ll get listening to the opening of this tune. The guitars are gritty and distorted, concealing whatever it is that skulks in the shadows. And then it pounces, with thin battering riffs and unearthly wails, gasps and gibbering. It’s a frightening ordeal to listen to.

‘Vampyric Drain Through Hypnotic Force’ is a whole different story. A gloomy, hypnotic tune with barely any outbursts, but repetitive and slowly, but surely, reeling you into the maw of doom. Creepy and overwhelming, that really brings the whole thing back home to towering peaks and ancient castles in Transylvania… or maybe something less tangible, even more, slithering and always around us, hiding just in the dark.

A Village In Despair from Sri Lanka

What if the reality you see before you offers more struggle, than any imaginary hell or dark realms you can conjure? For A Village In Despair, that must have been the line of reasoning. The band from Sri Lanka plays a peculiar brand of black metal, inspired by the situation in their country.

As tourists, you probably see a nice place when you go somewhere. According to the band, this is only a facade. Behind the pretty pictures, most of the people in Sri Lanka live in poverty and subsistence. It’s been that way on the former Brittish colony for a long time, since it changed from Ceylon to Sri Lanka.

A Village In Despair doesn’t make music about the big stories, but the small suffering. That makes them stand out, so I was very eager to get in touch with them and learn more.

The realities of rural life

Hey guys, how are you doing?

Hi Guido, Thank you for taking the time to speak to us.

Can we start of with an introduction to A Village In Despair? How did you guys get started as a band, how did you meet and how did you get into metal?

A Village in Despair (AVID) is a fairly new band, almost everyone in the band plays for other bands and has done so for quite some time. I am the vocalist of Plecto Aliquem Capite and the former vocalist of Forlorn Hope. Kasun plays with me in Plecto Aliquem Capite alongside a host of other metal bands from Sri Lanka. Sandun too, is the guitarist of the black metal band Rathas and we’ve crossed paths many times.

I mulled over the idea of starting an atmospheric black metal band for a while. It really didn’t take off till I had a chat with Sandun who was on the same wave length as I was. Concepts were discussed, riffs were created and Kasun was brought on board to do the drums, recording, mixing and mastering of our first EP. I spoke to my friend Melani about this concept and asked her if she could lend a hand with the female vocals, it was meant to be one-off but it worked so well that we decided to bring her on board as a full-time member of the band.

It seems that A Village in Despair has had a pretty fast start. As I understand it, you guys joined up in 2017 and a single and EP followed quite rapidly. You also signed to PRBM from the UK. How did everything happen so fast and how did you end up with PRBM (and can you tell a bit about them)?

Yeah, things that usually take years took only a couple of months for AVID. Every member was on the same page, I think that helped immensely.

PRBM is a very small operation, a niche underground label if you may. Their main focuses are extreme metal and noise and it is indeed an honour to be on their roster. We got several offers from labels, this was the most sensible option for us.

Your artwork seems very unique. Can you tell me where it is from and why you chose it?

The artwork was designed by our guitarist, Sandun Harshana. We wanted to reflect what we sing about, the artwork was influenced by day to day life in rural Sri Lanka and nature.

I’ve been listening to your music and reading the lyrics, it seems that the band name is in fact also the theme for your music. Struggle, despair, poverty… I was wondering if you’d be willing to talk a bit about that and maybe tell us why you’ve chosen these topics. Does this village physically exist and how does it relate to you?

There are hundreds of families living in rural parts of Sri Lanka without access to what you and I call basic necessities. People forget this quite easily if they don’t have to deal with these hardships themselves. The aim of AVID is to bring these issues to the fore and do something to help them.

We have been fortunate enough to not have been affected by any of these problems, but we feel that it’s not right to turn a blind eye when these issues are still very prevalent in the country we live in. If you look beyond the tourism brochures promoting Sri Lanka, you will see there’s a vast number of people who still live in rural, underdeveloped parts of the country. Life for them is nothing short of a struggle, farming is their main source of income but it is by no means enough to help them meet their basic needs.

What you and I have taken for granted, like having clean drinking water, access to healthcare or access to education doesn’t come too easily for them. Their lives are simple, they don’t have major aspirations and getting through another day is considered a victory by some. Yet they somehow manage a warm smile despite their hardships.

How do you go about making your music? Do you do things DIY? Do you start with lyrics or with the songs and how does everyone work together within the band?

We start off with a concept and lyrics follow soon after. We use lyrics as a guide to set up the song structure. We usually discuss our ideas via Facebook chats and video calls because we are all quite a distance away from each other.

On your EP, which is self-titled, I feel there are some typical elements that truly distinguish you from other bands. It’s as if you’re not encumbered by the rigorous ‘rules’ of the genre and there are these odd spoken word passages. Can you tell something about this EP, those spoken word elements and if you feel your sound is perhaps unique to where you are from?

Yes, the spoken word passages have caught a lot of people off-guard. The spoken passages are done in Sinhala which is our native language. These offer the first-person view of the issues discussed in the song and add a more personal feel.

We try not to restrict ourselves and be confined to the particular genre. We try our level best to include elements that capture the essence of life in rural parts of the country. We will be experimenting a lot more on our next record.

I’m curious about the scene in your country Sri Lanka. Mostly, where I am from, we take the facilities and freedom we have for granted. How are those things in your country? Do you have things like rehearsal spaces, venues to play, instruments and so forth available? Are you free to sing about whatever you want?

The metal scene in Sri Lanka had very humble beginnings. There weren’t many recording studios, rehearsal spaces or even venues during the early 2000s. A lot of individuals put in a lot of time, effort and money into the scene and most of the new bands don’t have to go through the hardships faced by bands back in the day. Things have definitely improved with time in Sri Lanka.

The scene is pretty underground in Sri Lanka and censorship hasn’t been a major concern for local bands. Things might change if the metal scene gets a massive following in Sri Lanka but that is quite unlikely just yet.

What is the scene like in Sri Lanka and maybe can you tell a bit about its history and who pioneered metal music in Sri Lanka?

The metal scene in Sri Lanka is thriving to say the least. The country is blessed with a lot of talented musicians who are in bands that range from black metal and death metal to grunge and punk. The origins of the current metal scene date back to the early 2000s, but there has been a couple of bands in the 70s and 80s as well. It’s a bit difficult to say who really pioneered metal music in Sri Lanka, what I can say though is that everyone who’s a part of it has contributed to its growth.

What bands from your country should people really check out and why?

There’s a lot of great bands from Sri Lanka across a lot of genres and sub-genres of metal. We would recommend you check the Encylopedia Metallum page for Sri Lanka and pick bands that play the genres they fancy.

What future plans does A village In Despair have?

We are hoping to release a 4-track EP by mid/late 2018. We might look at the possibility of playing live towards the end of next year, but nothing’s confirmed. It will be  based on the concept of ruin. It will talk about how the 4 elements of nature affect people in rural parts of the country.

If you could choose 3 bands to share the stage with, who would it be? Have any of them ever played in your country?

We are likely to pick Drudkh, Wolves in the throne room and I shalt become. Unfortunately, two of these bands don’t play live and the other hasn’t played in Sri Lanka as of yet.

If you had to compare your band to a dish, what would it be and why?

We haven’t really thought about it….. nope still can’t think of anything.

Underground Sounds: Living Altar – Scythes towards Psyche

Label: Inferna Profundus Records/Rat King Records
Band: Living Altar
Origin: Lithuania

Blood upon the Altar

I first read about Living Altar in Forgotten Path Zine.  As it stands, the band has been around for a bit, but it took some time get a release out. After a demo and split release, this is their first album and it’s some pretty strong stuff from the Lithuanian group.

The trio has had some experience apart form Living Altar. They played in Regressive and Fuck Off And Die!, bringing a bit of speed and thrash to the mix that makes up Living Altar.  Their inspiration is drawn from a psycho-spiritual world, making the band an interesting group.

‘Blinding Shower of Light’ is indeed much like a shower, pouring down on you visceral and vicious black metal. The rigid riffing finds contrast in the bestial drumming and battle-hungry vocals. A clear thrash influence can be detected early on in the songs when the guitars wail and scream. A different vibe is available on ‘Invert the Hearts’, which jangles and wallows in twangy guitars, that emit a more punky feel (like early Norwegian bands) with perhaps a bit of the current Polish bands atmosphere-wise. A strong moment on the record.

The recording quality is exceptionally good, but clearly muddled and dulled in production to create a certain lo-fi sound. Living Altar needs to sound primitive, it fits the brutal pummeling on the drums and frantic use of cymbals on tracks like ‘Dawn of Shadows’. They’re not renewers of the scene, but they are feisty worshippers of filthy, fierce black metal. That they deliver with conviction and fury.

This band brings a raw, feisty sound. They do it well and with power, so check them out.

Underground Sounds: Claret Ash – The Great Adjudication: Fragment One

Label: Casus Belli Musica/Beverina
Band: Claret Ash
Origin: Australia

Claret Ash is a black metal band from Australia and like most of those, they’re a bit different. The band has not been around that long yet, but have released two full-length records in the past. It seems that they’ve been experimenting a bit with their sound lately with a single and the EP, titled ‘ The Great Adjudication: Fragment One’.

The band appears to have a connection with Immorium, having had two members of this black metal band in their ranks. The Canberra act makes some interesting music and doesn’t follow the more well-trodden paths in their music, which is melodic and atmospheric. Time to dig in.
Ever opened the door and then got a full burst of sand or snow blown into your face? Well, that’s what pressing play for ‘Essence of Fire’ does for you. The song blasts off with those tremendous tremolo guitar riffs and roaring vocals. Much more surprising is the clean singing on ‘Devolution’, which takes on a melancholic, sensitive sound. The group is compared to Der Weg Einer Freiheit, and during the more energetic, angry parts I get it. I really do, but there’s something more to Claret Ash than that, which is where they become particularly interesting.
A track like ‘Plague Bearer’ then has a remarkable quality of ominous melody and atmosphere. A sinister threat, looming over you with big, hard-hitting drum salvo’s and particularly dire guitar parts unfolds. There’s little present in the way of cold, northern black metal, but a very particular sound. You feel their sound come up to the bottom of your stomach, resting there, slightly giving of tremors to make you feel wildly uncomfortable. Perhaps there’s something of an oldschool death metal vibe in their sound too, something less condensed into a particular genre. That’s definitely something you feel on ‘The Geir’, with clean singing and slow, doomy parts.
An album to dig into and explore continuously. Not that there’s a hidden layer to it, but it simply keeps being interesting.

Underground Sounds: Hellevaert – Hellevaert

Label: self-released
Band: Hellevaert
Origin: Netherlands

Drag you down to hell

A while ago I listed interesting black metal bands from the Netherlands, in what I planned to make an ongoing series. I surely missed out on one band there, because Hellevaert sounds like one hell of a sonic experience. Their album is self-titled, the name being the antonym of the Dutch word for Ascension day (which would be Hemelvaart, the journey to the heavens). I’ll let you make the translation by yourself.

Inspired by the likes of Dante Alighieri and Milton for their album, they draw up a tortured realm of dystopian proportions. The music has been enriched with samples and has not got the classic black metal feel. This is more crafted, less organic and more the creation of one brain, happening to be frontman Serpent. I know little more concerning the band, which helps to keep up the mystery.
The music is explosive, with intents blast beats and riffing that plows over you without any symptom of mercy. Apart from strange spoken samples, there’s little respite for the listener. The extreme and violent sounds rain down upon them, coalescing into massive slabs of black metal. Notable are the warped operatic vocals on ‘Hell And Apocalypse Await Eden’, which soars over the lo-fi sounding music at the start of the track. Samples from the Paradise Lost opera by Krzysztof Penderecki fill the gaps in the music.
The haze sometimes has peculiar fingerpicking guitar work breaking through the fog, like a rare sunray it is instantly noticeable. Probably due to the constant hemorrhaging fury of the music, which creates a landscape so desolate and full of grief. This must be the inferno. At times, Hellevaert approaches an almost cinematic quality with the cut and paste elements. You hear it on tracks like ‘Great Beast Of Tormenting Trials’, where jittery electronic music, samples, and explosions make up a hellish, almost Hieronymus Bosch-like soundscape. The band sounds strongly like a studio creation, but that’s where its strength lies.
Hellevaert delivers one hell of a record, that might be a bit too much in one bite. Enjoy it nonetheless, as you journey into the abyss.

Underground Sounds: Krallice – Go Be Forgotten

Label: Hathenter/Giliad Media
Band: Krallice
Origin: USA

How do you even get to this level of productivity, without slacking somehow in your quality? I have no idea how they do it, but here’s the new Krallice, titled ‘Go Be Forgotten’. It’s their second full length of 2017 and one hell of a record, mixing jazzy noise with black metal and hardcore-sludge or whatever.

The band has sort of just released ‘Löum’, together with Dave Edwardson from Neurosis. You’d say that we may have slightly recovered from that piece of work. This is the latest and it actually made it to various end of year lists. Good on you guys, I’d say. I was just a bit baffled after listening to it because these New Yorkers rarely make for an easy listen.

 

It seems like Krallice is moving in the direction of noise or even something akin to industrial, with the gritty beats on ‘This Forest For Which We Have Killed’. A solid layer of bass forms, like a curtain of pulverized glass or construction residue. Beyond that layer is space, for the vocals to bark into the void. Relentless aptly describes the flow of fury that Krallice directs at the listener. Frantically paced and never opening up for a breath, the band sounds more and more like a blend of hardcore, noise and black metal to me.
Remarkably, a grand experience can also be a part of that violent, abrasive sound. The title track embraces big arches and soaring synths. The wide contrast opens up a whole new space for Krallice to play in. The sound explores restlessness, dynamics, and complex structures, sometimes verging on jazz even? The 10-minute onslaught of ‘Ground Prayer’ for example, seems to meander from different pace as much as in intensity, with every new measure, while the vocals keep insistently barking at you.
Krallice may be one of the most intense and surprising bands out there and like every one of their records, this may take you some time to wrap your head around.

Underground Sounds: Eschatos – MÆRE

Label: Independent
Band: Eschatos
Origin: Latvia

The Latvian black metallers Eschatos have in my opinion never made a bad record. Sure, their production is not as high, but if you bring out stuff like ‘MÆRE’, I think we’re fine. It’s the third release by the band, that calls Riga their home and has had a steady line-up since 2012.

Interesting enough, this is their first EP. Maere offers a new look and feel to the band, driven more towards the artistic connections of the band members perhaps. More a voice of themselves, with a cover that stands out in a black and white adoring scene. Perhaps we are seeing Eschatos rise from the cocoon of the last few years here and find a unique voice in the black metal landscape.

This is immediately clear on ‘Luminary Eye Against The Sky’. The music works more as a flow, with a particular glow, seemingly moving in a more post-metal direction. The harrowing vocals of singer Kristiāna Kārkliņa are still there to raise the hair on the back of your neck, but it’s Marko Rass who really colors the sound with effects, keys, and even organ sounds. A slight folky element seeps into the song at the intro already. It’s the core of the music that changed most though, dynamic drum work by Edvards Percevs and a throbbing bass by Tomass Beķeris make the world of difference.

Guitars do much to even put more feeling and drive in the sound. Edgars Gultnieks, formerly of Grondh and also active in Protean, knows his stuff. Mārtiņš Platais, also in Pulse of Nebulae, adds work on guitars, bass, and keys to the whole array of sound as the producer. That wealth of instruments is particularly clear on the second part of the album, titled ‘The Night of the White Devil (part I, II & III)’. A big piece, filled with elements of postrock and even proggy sections as the suite spirals forwards, exploring various musical directions on its way. An interesting fact is that the mastering was done by Dan Swanö, perhaps explaining the clear and melodic sound of the record. The second song is definitely a big masterpiece, where Kārkliņa can demonstrate the full range of her vocal talent.

This is Eschatos at its best this far, I love it. MÆRE offers a journey that is exciting, every step of the way. Full of surprising elements, but in all its variety always coherent in its majesty.

Underground Sounds: Auðn – Farvegir Fyrndar

Label: Season of Mist
Band: Auðn
Origin: Iceland

Auðn is that one band from Iceland with members that are not a part of every other band. Yeah, the island of ice and snow has a unique, small black metal scene, with passionate musicians. These gents have been active since 2010 and now are finally returning with their second album. ‘Farvegir Fyrndar is an absolute gem in the modern black metal landscape and from its artwork to sound oozes a unique flavor.

Not just within the black metal realm is Auðn a noteworthy name, even within the Icelandic scene they stand apart. Their first self-titled album came out back in 2014 and in my humble opinion, it simply stands apart from the scene at large thanks to its refinement in the sound of the Hveragerði band.

There’s something vibrant and lush in the music of Auðn. Their atmospheric music often simply relies on generating just that, the feeling of an environment full of life and with a flourishing energy to boot. At times the band can sound utterly melancholic, like on ‘Skuggar’, but the best version of the Icelanders to me is when they create such a throbbing, invigorating burst of energy and warmth. This is what you get on ‘Lífvana Jörð’. The piercing vocals of Hjalti Sveinsson have a fire in them that really hits the mark.

‘Prísund’ is another stand-out track, because it utilizes the wall of guitar, that creates the sensation of rain. Coming down like showers, on one of those miserable days when everything feels grey. At times Auðn moves in an even more and more postrock-defined direction, pushing together the elements to create an almost tapestry of sound. Then a slight tremolo shimmer emerges in the pattern and shakes it all apart again.

It’s a remarkable record, that shows how the right soil produces greatness.

Underground Sounds: Rebirth of Nefast – Tabernaculum

Band: Rebirth of Nefast
Label: Norma Evangelium Diaboli
Origin: Ireland (now Iceland)

Stephen Lockhart is a man of dedication and after leaving his native Ireland, he has hooked up with the Icelandic scene ever since. The man played in Sinmara but has also returned to his own project Rebirth of Nefast after almost 10 years. The album ‘Tabernaculum’ is an extraordinary work of art and one that has been in the making for years due to the desire of Lockhart to make something monumental.

Rebirth of Nefast has not released a full length before ‘Tabernaculum’, but a demo and a split. Lockhart has in the meantime also played in Myrkr, the epic Wormlust and Haud Mundus. There’s a reverie with which to approach a record, that took so much honing of the craftwork to make. I feel awed by it’s magnitude and force, but what a great listen it is!
Great, but not easy, because ‘The lifting of the Veil’  opens with an 11-minute bombardment, introduced with eerie tones, which surges over you like a tidal wave. As the abyss itself slowly unfolds, the warped, guttural words creep out. Whispers and soft picked notes create an even more dense atmosphere as if fumes rise up and envelop the listener. And then… you go off into the deep end with Rebirth of Nefast.
The trick is not to rely on sheer ferocity, but the suggestion of that. When this band has swallowed you whole, everything starts to sound huge and foreboding. Sure, when ‘The First Born of the Dead’ kicks of, the blast beats are heavy and hitting where it hurts, but they’re balanced, controlled and carry the atmosphere with them. The sound simply flows, like a dark horde in the night. Full of strength, but never needing to fully put it on display, the record is one of the best things I’ve heard in a while.
Closer ‘Dead the Age of Hollow Vessels’ feels ashen grey, full of vitriol and with a mild hint of melancholy. It’s all there on this album, ready to be absorbed into your bloodstream and cool your heart.