Tag Archives: black metal

Underground Sounds: Striborg – Blackwave

Label: Independent
Artist: Striborg
Origin: Australia

Black metal artists have always had a knack for pushing the envelope. Though some stay in their cave and spit out furious raw sounds forever, Sin Nanna has decided to depart and enter the realms of electronics with depressed black metal outfit Striborg. Obviously, this has been to an unkind reception at times, but ‘Blackwave’ is a great, atmospheric record in its own right and worth a try for those who love the vibe of the Tasmanian artists work.

Striborg has released an impressive array of records throughout the years, but the man behind the project seems to believe a new direction is needed. Understandable, as this was not even his only project. At times he even dabbled with other projects, like gritty death metal outlet Cromlech or the one-off Sun O))) participation of Pentemple. Striborg has steadily been his main outfit, after growing out of Kathaaria, which started in 1994. That’s a long line of darkness…

Eerie synthwave with harrowing vocals, urge the listener onwards, through the dense halls of a futuristic construction or spaceship. The music is cold, but oriental influences give it some body and enhance the otherworldly experience of ‘Trapped in a Void of the Nightgrass Repetitive, droning melodies, with odd effects that enhance the futuristic feel of the music. Diving deep into the niche of synthwave, Striborg is going into the unknown here.

It’s during tracks like ‘Making The World Cold’, that the atmospheric black metal influence really shines through again. The guitars are condensed in a singular melody line, compressed and bent into an electronic vibe, but the drums are ase Burzumesque as it gets. That shifts slightly on the track ‘All Alone in A Room Filled With Souls’, which feels… dare I say? Dancy actually, with the electroclash vibe of the early synth music with a steady, thudding drum.

We close of with a harrowing, horror tune, titled ‘Penance Stare’. A creepy outro, that leaves you cold. In other words, great stuff! With ‘Blackwave’, Striborg reaches a new level of depth in the feeling and emotion of the string of great works. Definitely leaving the purists far behind, it challenges genre definitions, but grips listeners.

Underground Sounds: Ramchat – Nepočaria!

Label: Independent
Band: Ramchat
Origin: Slovakia

This album oozes eastern-European storytelling, with its typical cover artwork. Ramchat hails from Slovakia and probably doesn’t like Christianity much, judging by the burning clergy on the cover of ‘Nepočaria!’. This is the third full-length by the pagan black metallers in fact, and it stings.

The band has been around since 2013 and seems to be made up out of members from previous entities like Protest and Lunatic Gods. Both bands are still around and some members still perform in there. Hirax is the core member of the project and shaper of its pagan, Slavic direction.

The record starts with a punch on ‘Tak si spomeň’. Powerfull riffing, and then suddenly that rolling launch with barked vocals and a fat drum line. The vocals switch between a burly grunt and venomous snarl. A female vocalist chants in a fashion we find in many ethnic metal bands that borrow from the eastern folk tradition. But it works and touches the listener instantly with a yearning for the past. With a good dose of death metal influences, the record plows onwards on ‘SiloSlabosť’ with some crisp riffing and a thundering rhythm section. You might want to kick stuff.

There’s something grand in a song like ‘Už nebudeme otroci’, with the big melodies. Rising in force, the song works its magic relentlessly. You find the sound flow through with rattling drums and lust for battle. Musically, Ramchat invigorates with their strong and hefty sound, sometimes approaching some pretty brutal parts on ‘KrajoZem’. Notable song on this record is the closer ‘
Postoj chvílu! (cover by ŽiariSlav)’, with its thin whistle sounds, folk instruments and the singing with some typical hope and positivity as found in many post-Soviet tunes from the east. It’s hard to pinpoint that style, but it’s the music that stirs something in the listener that feels very profound.

A thoroughly enjoyable album, fully in Slovakian of course. Recommended listening!

Ankle deep in Dirt

Featuring Bog Body, Nyredolk, The Nietzsche, Mentor and Entropy Created Consciousness

These days, what used to be metal in its most vile and violent expressive forms has become a safe and polished sound. If this is a good thing or not, that is up to you to decide. Music evolves and changes over time and where the original wave of doom metal harked towards the fantastic and gloomy, black metal to cold and desolate unfeelingness and death metal really revolved around pummeling and punishing performances, this changes over time and much music nowadays under the banner of death, black or doom sounds particularly easy on the ear. And that’s fine… I guess. But deep down, there’s always crusty, dirty music coming out.

Disgusting, raw and visceral

What should metal sound like? That depends if you believe Possessed or Death was the first death metal act or perhaps if you consider Venom or Celtic Frost the way-paver for this sound. Even doom probably has its dilemma’s. But that’s not what I’m talking about here, as I want to focus on one direction of the development into the gritty, murky, visceral and dirty sound that was so long at the core of the underground. This is the true grit, music that makes you feel like you need to wash up. It’s still there, if you look for it.

Bog Body is a relatively new band, who have not been around that long and their demo is the first statement by the New York duo. Their band photo depicts abandonment and decay, the rubble of society. Inspired by the ritual aspect of death found in bog bodies, their sound is one of simplicity and punishment. Doomy, gloomy passages with grinding distortion and minimalist repetition. The vocals are harsh howls, full of bite and venom as ‘Dessicant Drip’ despoils your senses. Pummeling, daring and challenging you like a mad hobo wielding a knife in an alley, the songs just barrel forward, lunging, grabbing and squeezing the life out of everything. And this is only the debut.

There’s a lot of similarities with the Danish band NyreDolk, who are also a masked duo standing in the remains of western society on their profile picture. Their crusty, punk-infused sound is like black metal gone wrong according to their bio and they are quite honestly spot-on there. Ramming rhythms, that sound like the instruments are scraped over gravel, as the vocalist taunts and bellows his crooked words at you. But the band can also sound truly demented and harrowing on a track like ‘Dø Langsomt’ with these crawling passages. Absolutely brilliant material in its squat-crust-splendor with that big, challenging and evil sound you love from black metal. A great record and a promise for more, but I kind of hope they stick to making EP’s like this.

Uncut diamonds

Music from the dirt doesn’t need to sound disgustingly unclean though, it’s all about the raw intent and fury. It can be a straight, raw punch to the jaw in a hardcore vibe. Uncut diamonds, rough in their pure glory.

So you hardly need that black metal vibe to sound raw and dirty, which Ukrainian dark hardcore band The Nietzsche proves on their ‘Finals’ record. Imagine the bastard child of The Chariot and Mastodon, singing in Russian and English, both hard and fierce as well as creepingly melancholic. The sound is versatile but so direct. The lyrics are in fact the most notable, with poetic and complex lyrics, particularly in a song titled, rather obnoxiously I assumed at first, ‘Shake Your Spear’ and ‘Emily (Wants The) D’. These guys are not attempting to be anything you expect and underneath the gritty armor, there’s a complex and beautiful piece of music hidden for those willing and able to understand it. Pretty sure Nietzsche would appreciate this superior beatdown sound.

Described as satanic hardcore, Mentor features members of Thaw, Furia and J.D. Overdrive. And pardon me, but… FUCK! This record comes in with a firm kick to the teeth and a whole lot of grit. ‘Cults, Crypts and Corpses’ is like a sick fantasy from a bunch of guys who normally take the roundabout way to bring their message in an atmospheric haze. This time, they can just handle the axe, bat and club. It’s tight riffing, bellowing vocals and a stomping, rocking vibe from start to end. Just check out a track like ‘Death Mask’, which just pummels you in the face, like a little Slayer tribute. Or my favorite, the darkened and demented Kvelertak-like ‘Churchburner Girl’. Man, this record makes you want to get all sweaty and dirt stained in a muddy mosh pit at a festival or so. Every guitar lick, every riff is just nasty and the record hits the right spot!

Sinister haze

Lo-fi black metal is an excellent way to create a sound so oppressing and hazy, that it feels similarly unclean. Entropy Created Consciousness does just that on their decay-ridden, abyssal sounding record ‘Impressions of the Morning Star’. There is an eerie line of hope in the sound of these songs, created by a mysterious entity without face and name, inspired by William Blake and the grand grotesque of classic doom metal by bands like the Peaceville Three. But the sound is so wrangled and wrong at times, that it makes you feel uncomfortable as a listener. Dark and foreboding, yet open and vast. Yeah, this is something sinister, so you should probably check it out.

 

Underground Sounds: From The Bogs of Aughiska – Mineral Bearing Veins

Label: Apocalyptic Witchcraft
Band: From the Bogs of Aughiska
Origin: Ireland

From the Bogs of Aughiska returns with their masterpiece ‘Mineral Bearing Veins’. A harrowing piece of dark ambient, black metal and folklore, with samples, stories and spoken word. After their previous experiments with Irish culture and atmospheric music, the group hereby establishes themselves as frontiersmen in the advancement of dark music.

It is the third record by the act, under the guidance of Conchuir O’Drona. The sound is ever still bleak, full of threat and with an aura of otherworldliness. Ken Soceron (Abigail Williams, Perturbator, Leviathan) mastered the album and the artwork was done by Ken Coleman (Morbid Angel). The cover depicts druidic figures, in front of a megalithic structure. The figures are facing away, eyeing the moon, but their inhuman features are clear to see. A notable departure from their previous style of work.

Intro ‘Scuabtuinne‘ offers gentle waves, that just move with an easy grace. Named after the boat of Celtic sea deity Manannán mac Lir, it immediately sets the mood for the whole album in another time and place, far from Instagram-fame and famous vloggers to a place of loneliness and self-reliance. ‘Poll An Eidhneain’ follows with the sound of water dripping, under the earth, cavernous and cold and desperate black metal starts to unfold. When it then launches, the music is slithering, raw and merciless, but also contained. Constricted by the narrowness of its underground domain.

Departing from those realms, we enter ‘Wake of Buzzards’, a tune that takes us to the ambient/drone roots of the group. A story is told about the birds, who are squawking you hear, and what this means. Here we are taken into the seanchai-storytelling that is so much the distinctive part of From The Bogs of Aughiska, which we stick to on the following ‘Crataegus’, which is done in Gaelic. It has a peculiar frantic drumming passage in it, that suddenly breaks through to the surface and just hits home in stripped-down, cold tone. The track unfolds in a bit of a Bal-Sagoth-esque grandeur, where the teller speaks in a booming voice offer hemorrhaging black metal blast beats. The song ‘The One Whitethorn Bush’ deals with o lone faerie bush and its dark story, told by Eddie Lenihan, with the animated voice of an experienced storyteller. The eerie sounds surrounding it, make the track so suspiciously powerful and nerve-inducing. A highlight of the album.

But this only brings us to greater depths, with the abyssal drones and church bells from ‘The Devil is an Irishman’, which builds up laboriously and stumbling to a black metal barrage with a deeply melancholic angle and cold atmosphere. This slides into traditional Gaelic sung ‘An Spealadoir’, with that sensitive waver and shiver in the delivery, drowned in distortion and hazy guitars, that slowly slip away.

‘Lios Duin Bhearna’ is the all-consuming outro, where ambient violently merges with the black metal explorations of From the Bogs of Aughiska. It brings this trip to a close, after traversing the deep realms and the mysteries of the green island. These mysterious explorers of the dark and obscure have definitely found a new place on this record, which will probably haunt your dreams.

Underground Sounds: The Flesh – Dweller

Label: Independent
Band: The Flesh
Origin: The Netherlands

The Flesh made their first appearance on the main stage during Netherlands Death Fest. I forgot who they were replacing, which is a good sign. It means I do remember the replacement very vividly. Though the lights could have been a better effort and the stage is really big for such an intense, threatening live act, they ruled.

Now, finally, you might say, the band has released their debut album. Titled ‘Dweller’, it’s one big jar of hot sauce with death and black elements and a lot of groove and thumping hardcore vibes. Featuring former members of Herder, Blood Diamond and Feast, no real surprise there I suppose.

The slow, crushing intro of the record is an instant hit on ‘Tot In Den Treure’, with that jangled, buzzing bass-line curdling up from below. When the band picks up the pace with those vitriolic, venomous vocals it’s a straight-up hell ride. They stick to a hardcore pace with songs clocking in under three minutes, as ‘Black Rain’ and ‘Siren’s Call’ ramble past at break-neck speed and intensity, with muddy, sludgy streams surging through the dense guitars and drums.

‘Dweller (In the Dark)’ is a truly harrowing track with a doomy premonition whispering through its cosmic horror-infused tunes. The inhuman roar on ‘Salax’ helps keep that vibe going onto the next half of the album, with that thick, death metal sound, barrelling onwards onto the high-paced ‘Thrones in the Sky’, where the bellowing vocalist takes the band to a whole new level of awesome and overwhelming. Full-on killer ‘A Knife To The Conformist’ is the closing cut for an excellent debut record. Where are you, label bosses?

 

Underground Sounds: Vreid – Lifehunger

Label: Seasons of Mist
Band: Vreid
Origin: Norway

The triumphant return of Sognametal is here, with the new album by legendary Vreid. Following in the spirit of originator Windir, the band freely creates their own brand of black metal, quite distinct from the overall Norwegian sound but also very much a part of it. ‘Lifehunger’ is the eight full-length of Vreid.

We also have to mention Ulcus, since the Sogndál metal network is small and cohesive. Their music shaped through the years into something more melodic and accessible, with war-themes. In fact, I sometimes have to think of Loits in that context as much as of Kalmah, but hey. I’m thinking out of the box here.

The melancholic intro of ‘Flowers & Blood’ promises much as an acoustic guitar casts a moonlit setting for this album. As a prelude, it opens up for ‘One Hundred Years’, which combines the penchant for the epic and melancholic that Enslaved and Opeth have perfected. The sound is tight and polished, with the occasional marching beat as displayed on the title track keeping everything as tight and organized as possible. In that sense, Vreid follows the trajectory of bands like Satyricon to a more vitalistic and rigid sound.

The vocals are particularly captive, sounding like a vicious snarl that bites and snaps at the listener with fury. Yet, on ‘Hello Darkness’, we have the big outsider track. Clean vocals and maybe even a little nod to the true masters of darkness Simon & Garfunkel here? It’s mellow vibe and acoustic parts are truly dark though and capturing a different kind of melancholy. The rest of the album kinda picks up the pace again with steady quality, catchy riffs and a razorsharp bit of songwriting. I don’t know if anyone ever thought Vreid was gone, but then they’re back with a vengeance with killer tracks like ‘Sokrates Must Die’.

Underground Sounds: Theudho – De Roep van het Woud

Label: Heidens Hart
Band: Theudho
Origin: Belgium

The Flanders band Theudho has been ravaging the shores and land with their pagan black metal for a good 15 years. Having left behind their original Scandinavian signs, the band is now using the proto-Germanic word for ‘people’ or ‘nation’ as a name. Maybe ‘folk’ captures it better. The band has actually been very prolific and part of a number of tribute compilations throughout the years.

In 2016, Theudho returned to being a one-man outfit under the creative guidance of Jurgen S., who also played in a number of different projects, amongst his recently established Slithering Decay. ‘De Roep van het Woud’ is a record in the best pagan metal tradition, embracing the natural realm as inspiration and topic. Inspiration is also derived from Scandinavian stories, which is always a good thing.

Brisk black metal finds itself interchanging with soothing passages through the woods. At those moments, the vocals also turn to a speaking form, proclaiming the will of the woods. Some unexpected breaks hit the listener during ‘Waar Kraaien de Ondergang Bezingen’. The lyrics are sung in Belgian with an unearthly voice. Belgian, for those that are confused, here means the Flemish Dutch. The sound of Theudho is strong, firm and very well crafted. The repetitive nature harks back to the originators, such as Bathory and perhaps a harkening to the likes of current-day Darkthrone with that raw, direct sound.
Nowhere this sound comes out as clearly as on ‘De Boom van Hakiloheim’, with jagged, violent riffing and vocals barked in harmony with their onslaught. It’s a similar vibe that you get a little later on ‘Slangentongen’ and the vitalist ‘Saksenslacht’. Songs with a cold fury, impersonal but burning with force. Synths add the needed atmosphere here and there, enhancing the black metal that clasps on to you like the resin from the endless trees of the primordial forests that are sung about by Theudho.
We leave the realm of Theudho with the atmospheric outro track ‘Het gedrocht in de diepte’, which leaves you with the sense of foreboding doom and ever-present evil. It’s a great way to end on a high note I suppose.

Rugged Shores: Mistwalker & Viridian Records from Newfoundland

Metal pops up in many places, but it appears that the remote and cold has a particular attraction to many artists. It creates a specific kind of man, living in those places and that means a particular type of music. Mistwalker and the affiliated projects on the collective Viridian Records are such entities from the far north and distinct they are indeed.

Greg Sweetapple comes from the coast of Newfoundland originally but has since changed his native Glovertown for Montréal. The hard life and special nature of his home still affect his music though, and probably always will as the project shapes up and new creativity flows.

Greg was kind enough to answer some of my questions about his music and the place he comes from.

Mistwalker

Hello! Could you tell me something more about yourself?

Well, my full name is Greg Sweetapple (yes, that’s actually my real surname). I’m originally from a small town on the east coast of Newfoundland called Glovertown, whose population is only about 2000 people. In the summer of 2017 I moved to Montreal, Quebec and I’m still here at the moment.

How did you get into music and what projects are you involved in?

Believe it or not, my first musical love was ABBA, mostly because my dad used to listen to ABBA Gold in the cassette deck in our family car when I was a kid. But my first introduction to heavy music was “Iron Swan” by The Sword, which was a righteous kick in the ass if there ever was one for the pre-teen version of me. When I got older I started to mess around with drums, either in the music room at my school or at my friends’ houses, until eventually, I got my own. I played in a couple of bands during high school, but nothing too major. Then when I went to college I couldn’t bring my drums with me because I moved into a tiny apartment building and drums are way too loud for that sort of setting. So I brought my electric guitar with me and decided to learn to play that instead. After about a year I finally decided to try and record something with the serious intent behind it, thanks to my friend Aaron Powell (Fog Lake) who kept urging me to do it, and thus Mistwalker was born.

When it comes to other projects I have a two-person black metal project called Impaled Upon the Mountains with my friend Kristopher Crane (Nemophilist), though that one is kind of on hiatus right now since he recently moved to the UK. I’ve also got a neofolk project called Wavering Radiant (named after the Isis album), a hardcore punk project called Goddammit that satirizes Newfoundland politics and culture, an ambient project called Icefog, a drone project called Inverted Coffins and a stoner rock project called Trinidad Gunfight. I’m also the official live drummer for the aforementioned Fog Lake.

What’s the idea behind Mistwalker and can you share something about the background, moods, stories, and ideas that shape up the music you make with this project?

There isn’t really a consistent feeling behind Mistwalker, because the whole idea is that because it’s my flagship project I can do whatever I want with it. I don’t stick to one particular style of metal with it. There’s elements of black metal, death metal, thrash metal, hard rock, stoner rock and ambient to it. I can really make it whatever I want. But when it comes to what things inspire the music itself that can be anything as goofy as video games like Skyrim to serious personal feelings. For example, the album Strix Pantheon consists of instrumentals dedicated to some of my favorite female characters from fiction, while the album Alexander Bay was basically a loose concept album about my hometown. The last song on that album, ‘Willower’ is about the feeling of knowing that one day your parents are going to die and you’ll have to come to terms with that when it happens. So really I just write about whatever I feel like writing about, and that changes as frequently as the weather.

What sort of size group is associated with Viridian Records? And how did the label get started, how did you get together and what sort of cooperation do you have?

The thing about Viridian Records is that it isn’t really a record label, per se. It’s more of a name that’s used for a collective of artists to release music under. Mostly it’s just myself and Kristopher, though occasionally my friends Walter, Aaron, and Kenney will release music under the name too. Most of us just record music at home in our apartments/bedrooms, so it’s not really a professional setup. We’re just people who like to make music and put it out there for our own satisfaction, more or less.

Tell me about Newfoundland, what sort of place is it in your words and why does it inspire such a distinct sound?

I’ve heard people say before that Newfoundland is the Iceland of Canada, and I think that’s true. A lot of the landscape consists of rugged coastline, boreal forest, and dense bogs and the livelihood of the people there is really dependent upon the ocean. There’s a lot of respect for nature to be found there, and I think that really inspires the music that my friends and I make, though of course, I can’t speak for all of them. But aside from that, it’s also a hard place to live because right now the economy is suffering, which is part of the reason why I moved away. Making music was partially an escape from that atmosphere of living paycheck to paycheck. I guess when it comes to making black metal, or at least music that is heavily inspired by black metal, turning to nature is a form of escapism.

How do you approach creating music for various projects? Like, how do you know a song is particularly suited for Mistwalker?

That’s something I find a bit hard to define. Usually, it’s just some form of intuition. Like, I’ll come up with a riff and I’ll think to myself “Yeah, that’s a Mistwalker riff” and then sometimes I’ll say “Yeah, that’s more like an Impaled Upon the Mountains song.” With Mistwalker I like to experiment more because it’s my main project and I have complete creative control over it, so a lot of my weirder ideas find their way into that project more so than others.

As interest, you’ve listed quite some pagan and mythic elements on your Facebook page, could you tell more about that?

While I’m not a pagan myself, I do have an intense interest in mythology, pre-Christian religions, and folklore, especially when it comes to the Norse and Celtic variety. A lot of this comes from my love of the fantasy genre in fiction, which is obviously inspired by mythology and folklore. I’m a big nerd so I love all that stuff about elves, dwarves, magic, etc. I’m especially a big fan of The Lord of the Rings and The Elder Scrolls series so that often finds its way into my lyrics too. I aspire to be a fantasy author myself someday so naturally, my music is affected by that too.

What sort of recording and writing process do you follow to create music?

I don’t really follow any set process. It really varies. Sometimes I’ll write lyrics first and write something based around that structure and try to evoke the feeling of what I’ve written into the melodies. Other times I’ll compose the music first and record all the instruments before I even get into writing lyrics for it. When it comes to the actual recording I always lay down the drum track first, and then follow that up with guitar and bass, and vocals come last.

I‘m curious about the scene from a more ‘availability’ side, as in there’s a group of people creating works under the Viridian banner. Is that all very DIY? Or does Newfoundland have all the facilities like record shops, rehearsal spaces, venues etc. available in proximity?

When it comes to Newfoundland the metal scene really only exists in St. John’s. Sure there might be a band or two in other towns like Corner Brook or Stephenville, but everything is more or less constrained to the provincial capital. With record shops, the only one that exists is Fred’s Records, which does cater pretty heavily to local artists. Venues are pretty limited too, the only ones I can say for certain that cater to this style of music include CBTG’s, Distortion, Valhalla Tavern, The Rock House, Bar None, The Rose & Thistle and Factory, so you’re always going to the same four to five places every weekend to play and/or see metal and punk shows. These venues also sometimes double as rehearsal spaces in the daytime, and if not a band might just have to make do in somebody’s garage or basement. When it comes to Viridian like I mentioned before, it’s mostly just my friends and me recording stuff on our own time, more often than not in our bedrooms, and then self-releasing it on Bandcamp, so it’s definitely very DIY. There are professional recording studios in St. John’s but none of us really have the money for that.

Is it love for where you are from or loathing, that you feel when writing for Mistwalker?

Admittedly I laughed when I read this because honestly, it’s a bit of both. I love my home and I do miss it to an extent, especially living up here in Montreal where you have travel so much further to be immersed in nature. Back home I could go out into my backyard and ten minutes later I’d be in the middle of the woods on the top of a mountain. But like I mentioned before, living there is pretty difficult. It’s the reason why so many people who are my age have left to go work in Alberta’s oil industry. It’s just a better opportunity for them. Writing about Newfoundland in my music is equal parts love and loathing and I channel that respect for the land into it, while also expressing the frustration of the economic difficulty that rises from living there.

What future plans do you have and does Viridian have?

Mistwalker is a name that I plan to record under for as long as I live. Of course, things always change but I hope to be playing heavy music even as an old decrepit grandpa. Eventually, I’d like to get a band together and start playing shows here in Montreal, even go on tour if my music gets enough traction, but these things do take time. I can’t really speak for the other artists on Viridian, but I know that Kris records music sporadically under both of his projects: Acorn to Great Oak and Nemophilist.

If you had to compare Mistwalker our the whole Viridian roster to a dish or various dishes, what would it be and why?

That’s a hard question. I wouldn’t really compare the music to a specific dish, but rather a smell. The scent of evergreen trees, especially fir and spruce, combined with the smell of the ocean, really encapsulates the atmosphere of the island and the music that I try to create. Again I can’t really speak to the creative process of the other artists.

Thanks for the interview! I always appreciate opportunities like this.

Underground Sounds: lcbrt – Incarnatie

Label: self-released
Artist: lcbrt
Origin: the Netherlands

Dutch black metal has started exploring the more recent cultural realms for inspiration and this is not without its benefits. lcbrt is the most recent of these acts, combining experimental black metal with the work and concepts of Dutch poet Lucebert.

Sole member Evio is also active in Morvigor from the city of Alkmaar in the Netherlands. With this act, he creates death-black metal. Also appearing on this record is the voice of the poet himself, who did a lot of recordings during his lifetime of his complex and bewildering works.

Raw black metal hammers on, much in the lo-fi veins of early Burzum, intermixed with samples of poetry. The dulled, flat spoken words resonate with the static riffing and metallic twang delivered by lcbrt. He simply picks up a riff and goes with it. Sometimes fast and bashful, at other times soothing and layered. As these parts continue, there are some tempo changes, but not too much. It just works, it delivers a straight-up piece of art with dissonant and confusing black metal.

As the main track ‘i t/mv’ lasts almost 15 minutes, the second song on this record only takes a little chunk of your time. ‘Incarnatie’ continues in the peculiar vibe and sound, that is lcbrt. It’s harrowing, cold and unpleasant, yet offering a warm bath to sink into at the same time with its haggard sound and feisty riffing. The ploinky outro is particularly enjoyable. Yet, at the same time, the guitars are sharp and almost cut your hearing. That is part of the delivery and particular concept behind the act. Curious to see where this moves from here.

Underground Sounds: Iskandr – Euprosopon

Label: Haeresis Noviomagi
Band: Iskandr
Origin: The Netherlands

Iskandr is one of the odd ones out in the Dutch black metal scene and on ‘Euprosopon’ they’ve made the next step in complexity, atmosphere, and mystique. The album deals with the topic of the impossibility of an ideal man and the value of strife and heroism in an age of loss. They aim for medieval symbolism on this record, that stands as a timeless piece of art.

Iskandr is a project by Omar K., who is also active in Galg, Lubbert Das, Solar Temple, and Turia. With this project, he explores more strange themes. The name itself is an eastern variation on that of Alexander the Great, which might explain some of that. This is the second album under this moniker.

The record opens much as a ritual, with slow, eerie passages and gentle prayer bells. Chanting emerges from the sides. Are we moving towards Clannad here? The guitars slowly turn dissonant, so I may be wrong as ‘Vlakte’ suddenly lunges into full speed with a remarkably melodic bit of riffing. There’s a subtlety to the sound, to the wavery riffing and the oft barely audible chants, woven into the texture of the songs Sure, there’s a working towards the summit of the song with violent turmoil and energy, but it is ever done with brute force, but smooth technical play. Much the same applies to ‘Regnum’, which contains some more mystique aspects and warm, upbeat sections. The vocals are commanding, but never full of venom, which is remarkably pleasant. I have to point out the Spanish guitar in the end as absolutely exquisite.

‘Verban’ is truly regal in its delivery. A slow-flowing tune, with grand movements and scapes, that lures you in effortlessly. The rattling drums emerge but sound as if covered by a blanket of atmospheric guitar play, dulling their crunch and submerging it into the overall shape of the song. Yet it is ‘Herlwalt’ that takes up that mysterious ending of ‘Regnum’ and weaves an oriental tune around it for close to 15 minutes, with an air of utter mystery and bewilderment for the listener. It is as if the band is taking you to a completely different place, with some truly abyssal black metal as an intermezzo of an obscure, religious meet. As if all fades, bewilderment remains.
Iskandr solidly establishes their name as a surprising obscure black metal band, paving their own way in the field with rich and atmospheric sounds, well worth checking out. ‘Eurposopon’ is a masterpiece in my book.