The new year is off to a relentless start for metal, and much promise has already been revealed for the months ahead. As we progress through the heart of winter it becomes time to reflect on some great works that were encountered during the period of renewal, and this selection contains numerous grim and paranormal embodiments, along with malevolence and majesty extending from the abyss beneath to the void above and beyond. As always, this constitutes only a small sample of recent notable efforts, and I welcome comments on other worthy arrivals and also those anticipated to come.
VASTATUM Mercurial States of Revelation
A new Canadian specter has been revealed within the perpetual course of existence, and February sees the haunting presence of Mercurial States of Revelation fully realized. An ethereal quality permeates the orchestrations as disembodied vocal rasps echo across a cold expanse, and malicious tones emanate from the dissonance of its riffs, along with folkish traces evoked through certain entrancing progressions. A distinct ebb and flow is noted in this heavy medium, which also bares a ferocity matched by blast beats, and sections of grooving rhythm with other intricate drum patterns reflect the arpeggiations and frenzied melodic details shaped throughout. These enhance the overarching cosmic or astral currents while gloomy passages are produced using clean string effects, and a dark atmospheric grandeur rises with tremolos that bend among the choral voices and ambience. Introductory and closing acoustic interludes bring the work full circle, and VASTATUM channels its entirety into an alluring venture toward planes beyond death.
CHAOS PERVERSION Petrified Against the Emanation
The vilest Chilean depths are embodied by this debut EP from CHAOS PERVERSION, which has now secured a proper release after initially spawning in 2019, and numerous otherworldly currents issue from its compositions. Notes pierce through the surface of a tremolo murkiness as its currents fluctuate, and intricate fretted patterns are glimpsed like fleeting shadows within the madness. Eerie dissonant formations traverse blast-beaten intensity and the compounding impact of slower doom sections, where trilled notes crush alongside the brutality of chord strikes, and other twisted distortions are noted throughout. Some high-end tremolos emerge for lead effect, and they extend to entrancing melodies before rhythms escalate. Inhuman vocals inhabit this abyss with wretched variations that include whispered rasps, and warped ambient passages enshroud the malevolence with ominous hallucinogenic effects. Spectral forces also drive the haunting of this abomination, and the pits of Petrified Against the Emanation induce anticipation for a full-length immersion in their blackness.
This outfit from Spain has cast a fourth full-length hex titled Madarikazioa, and brooding progressions reflect the void within its cold riffing mass. Their striking heaviness intensifies with the force of blast beats while a dark flow takes hold during groove passages, and the riffs deviate from this blackened expanse to integrate other thrashy or rhythmic structures. Tremolo melodies and distinct noted shapes are also embedded in the mix, along with sinister arpeggiated tones that combine with the heavier elements for amplified menacing effect. Slower tempos and dissonant chords further this hostility, which is likewise conveyed through anguished and fierce projections from the rabid vocal harshness, and disturbed impressions persist with disembodied howls emerging in the distance. Numerous Atmospheric features enhance the cosmos of these orchestrations, and some clean strings and psychedelic synth effects are included among their collective. The malignant potency of this work is undeniable, and its enchantment leaves a mark to seize lasting acclaim for OSTOTS.
OWLS WOODS GRAVES Secret Spies of the Horned Patrician
A new attack launches from the mighty Polish scene, and it shows OWLS WOODS GRAVES uniting black metal and punk with several vicious influences. Raw energies course through its arrangements as chord and tremolo structures evolve, which produces dissonant mutations and bleakness when layers converge, and a depressive tonal shift is especially noted at the end. Points of barbarity akin to BLACK WITCHERY are reached while doom crushes with vibratos during slower passages, and one in particular morphs a sinister riff into punk after gradually increasing its speed. This punk element is subtly fused with the cold of some sections but then highly pronounced in others, and multiple dynamics possess the vocals, including cavernous growls, semi-clean singing, and chants backed by an infernal horde. Certain moments are heightened by lead effects, and a haunted presence also appears in various sampled forms. This work was recorded live, resulting in a notably organic sound, and its combined grimness with some drink-induced comradery makes Secret Spies of the Horned Patrician an enjoyably varied banger.
NEBULA ORIONIS Ephemeral
This Russian composer has sustained a creative streak over the past few years, and it continues into the new year with his latest effort titled Ephemeral. Its orchestrations are imbued with a strong ambient presence as keys weave detailed melodies throughout, and they incorporate organ tones with a vast array of effects to drive grand cosmic impressions. Various acoustics and dark synths also appear at different points, and all these elements interact with a bleak spirit in the riffing, which occasionally delves through passages of crushing rhythmic haste and striking purpose. Sections of speed from blast beats are noted, but distinct drum patterns are prevalent while rocking grooves reveal other distorted guitar features. Heightened tremolos and distant melodic forms expand this universe, and since no vocals are employed, the focus lies solely on its immense soundscapes. Their majesty traverses a spectrum where deep gloomy notes are matched by comparatively upbeat areas, and the overall sense of serenity in desolation makes this work from NEBULA ORIONIS a uniquely contemplative and entrancing experience.