Five Releases that Blackened April

            This year has offered many great albums so far, but it’s clear that Metal in 2021 is just beginning to leave its mark. April had a number of highlights that affirm Black Metal and its grimness will remain long after the last snows have passed, and glimpses ahead show there will be much more to come. For now, here are five great releases I encountered in the last month that are worth exploring in more detail.

Κραυγή     Self-Titled

            The band whose name translates to “Scream” released their debut self-titled EP back in March. I decided to discuss it here since last month is when I learned about it, and this work grimly introduces an act representing the most hideous regions of the abyss. The lo-fi production creates a thunderous cacophony and suffocating darkness through raw tremolo melodies while the vocals convey tortured expressions ranging from contempt and rage to complete anguish and despair. There are moments of heavier dissonance, hypnotic fury, and depressive agony within the cold riffing, along with other dynamics including the dark acoustic intro on “The Miracle of Life” and a bass break with ghoulish vocals on “The Rift Where I Hid My Soul.” This will appeal to those who appreciate Black Metal in its purest form, and it likewise reflects the primordial core of the band’s formative stage. It also demonstrates a creative potential that’s true to their stylistic pursuits, and I look forward to hearing what becomes on a full-length release from Κραυγή.

SPECTRAL WOUND     A Diabolic Thirst

            Canada’s dark portal opens once again to unleash the third offering of ghastly fury from SPECTRAL WOUND. A bleakness is conjured through desolating tremolo melodies and visceral projections of hatred from raspy screams. Fierce hooks further enshroud the atmosphere in icy bitterness, and slower dissonant arrangements also invoke unsettling moments with brooding and melancholic undertones. Punk elements, spacey effects, and acoustic passages add some variety as this menacing incarnation progresses, and it ultimately maintains a raw and vicious delivery until its epic raging conclusion.

MALUM     Devil’s Creation

            This diabolical Finnish outfit has released a fourth album of ravaging darkness that summons infernal forces toward a triumphant end. Passages of war and militant style drumming imply an arcane battle is underway while harsh screams act as the unholy warmonger. Dynamic tremolo and heavy riffing combinations drive this attack through a series of grooves and tempo variations that show elements of Punk, dark melody, and chilling dissonance. Subtle atmospheric effects further develop this relentless soundscape, and desolation is left before vocals morph into otherworldly demonic voices to signal the final conjuration.

HYMNR     Far Beyond Insanity

            A sense of dread permeates the compositions on this debut album from Russia, and the eerie arpeggiated melodies, hypnotic tremolo riffing, heavy grooves, and depressive passages are reflective of its title. Memorable songwriting is displayed through intricate arrangements that induce impressions of gloom, misery, and madness along with subtler epic developments. Many ominous and dismal manifestations are enhanced further with contributions from the distinct vocal delivery, spacey hooks, and other atmospheric effects. These cooperative elemental combinations craft a uniquely grim and haunting atmosphere that evokes the horrors of the dark ages.

COLD CELL     The Greater Evil

            The clean voice at the ends of this fourth output from COLD CELL alludes to a disturbed psyche along with all the compositions in-between. Psychological issues and negative emotions are dynamically projected through harsh vocals, and the music parallels these dark expressions with ominous melodies, dissonant riffs, and haunting effects. It displays a modern Black Metal sound and progressive edge while maintaining a frozen core, and the inherent rawness complements all the diverse elements to create a hopelessly bleak atmosphere. This offering is a deep and complicated venture into the dark void of a tormented mind.

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