The end is fast approaching as we cross into the last month of 2021, and many great releases still need covered before reaching the next annual beginning. This selection from November reflects the harsh incoming climate, with diverse layers of frost and darkness conveyed in elaborate songwriting, and death is also glorified along with various occult and misanthropic philosophies. There was some difficulty in narrowing the list to just five, and so a bonus sixth actually appears here, which I won’t be making into a habit. This likely reflects the yearly ending rush, and many works will unfortunately miss coverage, but I always welcome comments on others that are notable for the time.
VREDENSDAL Silence is Eternal
This US black metal force has returned for the third year in a row with Silence is Eternal, and they show no signs of slowing down on this new full-length attack. Sounds of the forest and natural elements conjure a fitting atmosphere alongside grimness emanating from cold tremolo layers and heavy riffage. String bends and harmonics are integrated with other techniques to formulate detailed arrangements, and notable progressions transpire as they course through various grooving rhythms. These drive a sense of writhing contempt, which permeates the tracks as they shift from striking power and doom to blast beats, and their spirit is further developed by weaving arpeggiated dissonance throughout the structures. Leads and solos emerge with technical forms to heighten the darkness, and bleak impressions are also enhanced by clean melodic sections with haunting voices. Points of explicit hatred are reached in the vocal harshness while different dynamics appear in clean and whispered expressions. This modern work possesses a calculated potency that breathes new life into the traditional black metal arts.
CIRCLE OF OUROBORUS Kiromantia
These experimental Finns have also been highly productive over the years, and they’re now back, just one year after releasing Viimeinen juoksu, with the next full-length addition to their extensive discography. The spirit of that previous work is drawn into darker realms on Kiromantia, and a fog enshrouds its sound as riffing imposes the realization of persistent gloom. Memorable progressions are formed by their looming heaviness, and these are enhanced by chilling arpeggiated notes and other grim manifestations, along with brooding rhythms to emphasize their melancholy. A sinister balance is achieved with faster blast-beaten sections, and a tribal element is noted from moments with other percussive varieties. Heightened tremolo melodies appear with epic tones while retaining the core bleakness, which intensifies for periods of pure agony, and this combination of majesty with despair is echoed by enraged harsh and disembodied clean vocal projections. CIRCLE OF OUROBORUS is known for boldly exploring different genres, and they continue carving outside the lines with the shadowy allure of this dreary aural embodiment.
GAAHLS WYRD The Humming Mountain
The latest project from Gaahl is back with a new EP titled The Humming Mountain, and it leads deeper into the territory explored on their 2019 debut. Acoustic strings and the spirit of nature are evoked during a lengthy atmospheric opening, and darker haunting tones emerge as it progresses, along with piano keys and varying clean or whispered expressions. A folk element is also noted in these developments before the shift to a brooding riff on the second track, and its depressive pace combines with Gaahl’s vocal melodies to create an entrancing effect, which is driven further by other ambient notes. A thrashing riff and speed follow for contrast, and arpeggiations manifest in cold blackened riffs that advance toward soloing alongside the vocal dynamics. These reflect an epic force that manifests before icy riffing and blast beats take over on the last metal exercise, and deeper vocals complement the evolving heaviness until a groove rhythm carries it into a desolate instrumental outro. This work touches on a variety of black metal qualities throughout its course, and it satisfies while fostering an eagerness for the next full-length release.
TYRANNIC Mortuus Decadence
The darkness thickens over Australia as TYRANNIC conjures their second full monstrosity titled Mortuus Decadence, and its 80’s spirit carries an extra burden of doom within mighty arrangements. Heavy notes bend and trill as they extend to the crushing emphasis of riffs, and these also possess a thrash element when advancing across various rhythmic transitions. Heightened blasting sections and grooves are matched with slower tempos to augment passages of looming heaviness, which all include drumming variations and detailed melodic forms to captivate further, and euphoria rises with the lead effect from raw tremolo melodies. Intoxicated solos magnify that same piercing state, and vocals reflect its impact through screams that soar above their raspy delivery. Varying sung expressions also haunt the tracks, with some moments comparable to Attila and others projecting deep anguish, and an atmospheric gloom seizes hold during interludes with clean voices and melodies. The sounds and structures of this work recapture the mystique of early black metal, along with the influences from other related genres, and these combine with the band’s own vital force to create a highly evocative experience.
MORGUILIATH Occult Sins, New Unholy Dimension
This French outfit led solely by Rats, the guitarist of SUICIDE CIRCLE, just unleashed its second plaguing manifestation one year after the debut, and Occult Sins, New Unholy Dimension pursues a path in the vein of classic black metal with malice projected through its harsh sound. Anguish and contempt are spewed from the tortured vocal rasp, and riffing conspires with this negativity in heavy progressions, which possess a hypnotic quality that also incorporates thrash with raw frenzied notes and brooding dissonance. These malignant forces are augmented by slower grooves while the blasting tempos display a vicious edge, and other depressive variations take form in the arpeggiated or melodic clean passages. Soloing appears along with the lead impact from tremolo melodies, and they layer over heavy rhythms that are occasionally enhanced by dark hallucinogenic elements. Hints of industrial and strange alien sounds are noted among the ambience, and a cosmic dungeon-like setting is often invoked by those effects. Various influences from bands including MUTIILATION are apparent, and Meyhna’ch himself contributes guest vocals on the closing track. The grim essence of this work merges with power from the genre’s roots to create a fierce and rotten incarnation suiting our current times.
ORDINUL NEGRU A Sojourner Wandering Through the Barren Openness
Romania’s Black Order began a quest last year on Nebuisa, and its sinister experimentation now becomes whole with this second EP titled A Sojourner Wandering Through the Barren Openness. A myriad of elements course through a single epic track, which is initiated by the spectral tone of arpeggiations and organ keys before double bass elevates to blast-beaten frenzy. Intricate drumming shifts continue throughout, along with an incorporeal presence in the atmosphere, and icy dissonance materializes in tremolo riffs and melodies that delve into sections of crushing force. Their impact carries over to areas of rhythmic flow with deep droning voices, and dark folk or acoustic features appear during an epic culmination. Other unsettling notes take effect in a passage with cleaner vocals, and female voices also enchant while drifting toward calmer arrangements. The void and its expanse are encountered as seductive female vocals command annihilation, and a menacing upheaval ensues when distortion returns until the end is engulfed by an ambient vortex. This illuminative exploration proves to be an effective companion for its predecessor, and its orchestrated chaos is worthy of extensive contemplation.