Five Highlights from March

            The first quarter of the year has passed, and with April firmly in progress it’s time to recognize a few other great releases that I encountered during the last month. This selection offers many shades of darkness worth exploring, and I encourage any thoughts or comments on other albums from March that deserve mention.

MALIST     Karst Relict

            This one-man project from Russia has unleashed a third creation of melancholy and desolation. Many layers of darkness are conjured through tremolo melodies and haunting piano keys, mournful clean melodies, and dark acoustic passages. These elements combine with a range of vocals and tempo variations to form intricate compositional structures that are eerie, furious, and depressive for an enchanting atmospheric experience.

NAZXUL     Irkalla

            NAZXUL has returned after a long hiatus with a new exercise in ritualistic savagery. Spectral effects and otherworldly vocals merge with minimalistic riffing to create a hellish atmosphere seething with medieval occult influence. The darkness becomes even more suffocating with constant drum blasting that only breaks for an occasional eerie interlude or momentary groove. Irkalla will undoubtedly represent the barbaric extremes of the genre.

PURE     Seeds of Despair

            Cold and harsh soundscapes manifest through the lo fi guitars and shrieking vocals on this work of imposing grimness from Switzerland. A blackened sound from the 90’s is diversified through menacing riffs that transition from faster tremolo sections to slow brooding groove with ominous melodies. This atmosphere further expands its dismal resolve with eerie clean passages, melancholic hooks, and other maddening effects that culminate into a raw, depressive, and unsettling malevolent force.

CHORIA     A Dismal Repertoire

          The sophomore effort from these Indonesians offers its own expression of anguish and despair. An ambience consistent with the title permeates these compositions through spacey tremolo melodies and effects that layer over bleak riffing. The overall sound takes a melodic approach to its gloomy majesty and displays a variety of groove with doses of Punk, brooding heaviness, and subtle atmospheric elements. The outro featuring oceanic sounds and seductive female vocals also adds an interesting dynamic to this entrancing work.

VOLLMOND     Wolves in Turmoil

            The third offering from this Italian Black/Doom act immediately gives dark folk vibes through introductory samples that lead into a driving execution of riffs infused with Punk, Folk, and melodic groove. A fierce energy raging through the icy riffs, blackened arpeggiations, and brooding passages of doom is further projected through the deranged vocals. Contributions from other clean, acoustic, and psychedelic elements also facilitate the crafting of this truly engaging venture.

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