Five Releases for a Somber September

            Another month passes while entering the final quarter of 2021, and a grim outlook prevails with this selection of great releases from September. Various dark dimensions are explored through these soundscapes, with some reviving the 90’s and others venturing further into a mythical past. Phantasmic shapes are rampant along with shadowy depictions of the void and death, which all seems appropriate as Halloween draws near. These are just a few notable efforts that captured my interest over the last month, and so feel free to share others that deserve attention.

GESPENST     Den Sidste Færd

            The Danish phantoms have projected a second work of astral darkness titled Den Sidste Færd, and the essence of their name is fully embodied in the sound and artwork of this enchanting release. Spectral influences permeate the tracks as they conjure a slow arpeggiated gloom, along with groove and blast beat rhythms that drive the bleakness of entrancing riffs, and fierce tremolo melodies emerge to give these arrangements a sinister edge. The focus remains on eeriness and melancholy from this instrumental core, but keyboards occasionally make their haunting presence known while harsh vocals direct their own corresponding negativity into the mix. Disembodied background voices also appear, and the atmosphere expands through cavernous howls and other natural elements, with some ambient passages treading into hellish incorporeal planes. These tormenting and evocative realms are steeped in a shadowy splendor, and hopefully the title, which means “the last move,” isn’t referring to musical output from GESPENST.


            The undead rise in Australia as PESTILENTIAL SHADOWS returns with their sixth full-length variant titled Revenant, and its songwriting elements proliferate into highly contagious structures of despair. A bleak hypnotic mass of riffing drives their gloom and epic undertones, along with heavy points reaching toward the abyss, and other disturbing tones form within memorable progressions that intensify with layers of mournful tremolo melodies. Dissonance and eerie arpeggiations enhance the darkness while flowing through various grooves and blast beaten rhythms, which also leads to slow burdening passages with haunting ambience, and harsh vocals reflect those tonal vibrations with their menacing and anguished delivery. Acoustic notes and other unearthly effects also advance the atmospheric depth, and this malignant balance of desolation and dark majesty sustains its vehement force to bring about energetic culminations. Their immensity creates an incarnation of sickness and death that’s actually worth spreading on a pandemic level.

VULTHUM     Shadowvoid

            Grimness emanates from Brazil with the arrival of VULTHUM, a new entity forged by members of other distinguished acts from the region, and they’ve opened a new portal to the 90’s with their debut conjuration titled Shadowvoid. Allusions to winter and the abyss shape a harsh atmosphere before matching its bitterness with raw tremolo riffs and melodies, along with the various dismal expressions they produce while coursing through desolate blast beats and mid-paced rhythmic heaviness. An imposing malevolence often forms when these melodic elements converge, and the inhuman vocals echo this hostility as slower percussive shifts allow more derangement to surface in arpeggiated notes. Melancholic impressions and doom also issue from these developments, with some of their ominous tones emphasized by organ keys, and other ambient supplements coincide with riffs embodying an ancient presence. A trace of folk from acoustic melodies supports this spirit, and the work’s entirety radiates with a cold darkened vitality to demonstrate the immortal second wave sound.

RUNESPELL     Verses in Regicide

            A second Australian offering becomes with the fourth quest from RUNESPELL, and epic forces drive its orchestrations through the murkiness of legendary realms. The riffing sustains a medieval aura throughout, which elevates further with layered melodic structures, and their intricacies reach transcendent heights with tremolo melodies that gradually take lead. This effect only strengthens when the ambience emerges, and various sounds of fire and wind amplify the immersive quality in the atmosphere along with other cavernous resonations. Blast beats are plentiful, but much of the grandeur lies within rocking grooves that generate memorable flowing passages of heaviness and melody. The vocals command a necessary level of incorporeal harshness, with other distant instrumental sections also conveying this ghostly essence, and mournful tones persist through various acoustic passages and clean melodic effects. A bleak spirit casts its massive shadow over these arrangements, and their energy forms an imaginative venture into the forgotten past.

VORTEX OF END     Abhorrent Fervor

            France becomes a center for cosmic terror with the emergence of Abhorrent Fervor, and numerous otherworldly horrors manifest within this fourth full-length monstrosity from VORTEX OF END. Tremolo melodies possess an ethereal quality while tearing through a matrix of riffing fury and blast beats, which contorts into different rhythmic patterns to mirror vast melodic developments, and these expand with other drumming details toward the frenzy of lead effects and solos. Some melodies are utterly chilling, and ominous vibes intensify as alien guitar effects seep through the warped universal fabric, along with deranged synths and various forms of ambient desolation. Harmonics and dissonant notes are struck as the distortion drives this brooding atmosphere, and its void affirms malicious intent by descending into regions of doom. Clean melodies and background voices pursue further torment, and the lead vocals express varying hateful layers of yelled harshness. These formulations embody a dark sci-fi substance, and the energy from their calculated execution leaves a truly stellar impact.

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