Five Massive Releases from May

            The year continues heating up in terms of seasonal climate, but the same is true for Metal, and now it’s time to reflect on some other great releases that surfaced last month. These selections highlight the atmospheric quality of Black Metal with ventures into dark fantasy, winter forests, ancient civilizations, and countless other imaginative realms that manifest through their shadowy soundscapes. They provide welcome escapes from the typical drudgery of the day, and I always invite comments on other gems that unfortunately were overlooked.

KINGS ROT     The Shadow of the Accursed

            This Canadian outfit has unleashed their first full-length adventure into mythical darkness titled The Shadow of the Accursed, and elemental varieties bring its atmosphere to life while upholding the raw spirit of Black Metal. Inspired by classics from the Finnish scene, its rugged sound is carved from bleak riffs and melodies that develop into sections of tremolo fury, thrashing groove, and dissonant gloom through rhythmic variations. All the instruments and vocals have standout contributions while acoustic passages, piano interludes, and other ambient enhancements heighten the infernal majesty that materializes throughout. Clean melodic elements and ghostly voices evoke further haunting as this otherworldly creation progresses.

ILDFAR     Som Vinden Farer Vil

            A grim time capsule unearths the compositions of this one-man Norwegian project, originally founded in 1994, as they now take definite form in the debut recording titled Som Vinden Farer Vil. Shadows and a dismal cold enshroud its atmosphere as tremolo melodies, gloomy hooks, and various complex structures develop within the lo-fi walls of darkness. Harsh vocals project anguish and hatred while other vicious expressions continue through the heaviness and thrashing speed of driving riffs. Clean vocals also appear along with acoustic interludes, the sound of footsteps in snow, and ambient moments reminiscent of the classics from BURZUM. It’s interesting to hear a new album in 2021 that links so closely to the glory days of Norwegian Black Metal.

DJEVEL     Tanker Som Rir Natten

            The Norwegian devils return with their new offering titled Tanker Som Rir Natten, and its raw atmosphere effectively captures the nature of Scandinavian winters. An entrancing flow courses through these tracks as layers of bleak melodies intertwine and build up to epic levels of immensity. These engaging developments are sustained by the length of the arrangements for a lasting contemplative impact, and Norse undertones manifest through the background vocals, acoustic tracks, and other ambient nuances while carrying the bitter cold even further. The harsh vocals, rhythmic variations, and dreary hook effects also contribute to its grim intensity for a demonstration in the unwavering eminence of the Norwegian scene.

ZGARD     Place of Power

            An arcane source from the Ukraine continues its ancient embodiment through this seventh offering titled Place of Power. Old haunts manifest in the ambient effects while a melodic flow is created by merging with heavy progressions, and other dynamics take form with passages of slow melancholy, tremolo intricacies, and arpeggiated dissonance. The dark past is further conveyed through anguished vocals and other choral voice effects along with the ominous, hallucinogenic, and folkish expressions of different atmospheric elements. This release is steeped in mystical lore and easily transports the listener to seafaring ships, forgotten ruins, and beyond for a truly enchanting journey.

SABHANKRA     Death to Traitors

            The battle rages on as these Turkish warriors unleash havoc with a new attack calling for Death to Traitors. Sinister melodies reach MARDUK levels of tremolo and blasting fury while a matching vocal intensity drives their onward assault. Blackened Death and Thrash elements are all accounted for in the razor-sharp riffs, and their vicious display is further enhanced by melodic intricacies, hooks, and shredding leads that appear throughout. Entrancing sections of rhythmic chugging also produce an epic fluency when combined with certain ambient effects. There are some calmer moments with clean melodies, but this offering mainly focuses on straightforward brutality with engaging variations, and enough atmosphere to evoke the spirit of times long past.

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