The second chapter of the new year has passed, and with that comes the time for reflection on some new standout efforts from February. This also comes with a side thought since certain world events can’t be ignored. The current conflict between Russia and Ukraine shows we must be doomed to pass continually from one crisis to another, now with the obvious leader who wasted no time stirring up more shit after we finally began recovering from the last couple painful years. Unfortunately, some at his hierarchical level don’t seem aware of how well off they already are, and must cause grief to us ordinary beings in the pursuit of their unnecessary ambitions. Some associated sentiments are perhaps expressed in the heavy atmospheric emphasis of this selection, which radiates anguish and dejection alongside a grim defiance, and I hope to see freedom prevail and the power-hungry violator thwarted.
ELDRITCH I Shall Raise My Burning Sword
Ancient entities materialize in the UK through ELDRITCH, a new solo project from Azathoth of LEGION, and its full-length initiation pays tribute to the classic black metal pantheon. A cold medieval setting is explored within the arrangements, where detailed tremolos and noted structures emerge from bleak riff progressions, and these produce sections of heavy gloom that intensify during dissonant arpeggiated moments. Those sinister tones are matched with the folk nuances of certain melodies, and their aura is driven by flowing rhythmic grooves while clean-sung or spoken passages enhance a majestic presence. Militaristic drumbeats are also utilized, and the aural course escalates with fierce vocal commands charging alongside blast-beaten haste. This atmosphere is raised higher by ambience with choral and mythical qualities, which combines with the other features to bring about an epic peak, and the encounters with dark sorcery, catacombs beneath castles, battlefields, and icy death create a gloriously harsh adventure on I Shall Raise My Burning Sword.
A new shadowy form of oppression takes hold over Spain with the third full effort from NEGATIVA, and many textures interact throughout the imposing course of its burden. A menacing tone is embodied in the riffing, with progressions that lead through numerous striking occurrences, and other accented or melodic patterns also appear within their medium. Slower rhythms effectively magnify an overarching despair, and this spirit varies with the force of blast beat sections, which compound a brooding heaviness and the affliction from harsh tremolo layers. The bleakness is heightened by specific tremolo melodies throughout, and malignant energies are pronounced when they combine with arpeggiated structures. These produce eerie and dismal vibrations while exhibiting a hypnotic quality, and ambience enhances the multitude of disturbed impressions, along with clean strings and warped effects during a gloomy interlude. Tortured screams echo malevolence from a negative disembodied plane, and the sinister flow of 04 exemplifies the power and appeal of depressive black metal.
NOKTURNAL MORTUM До лунарної поезії
These famed pagans from Ukraine have revisited a classic from 1996, and the outcome brings forth its modern incarnation as До лунарної поезії (To Lunar Poetry). This version leaves the work of former members to the past and features new contributions from the current lineup, and it also bears a more polished or stronger production. The epic atmosphere embodies the same ancient spirit, however, and slight instrumental differences keep the pagan aura with flutes and dulcimers while including some darker synth tones. These permeate the arrangements to create rich folkloric settings with a winter force driven by riffs, and intricate fretted patterns take form in an icy mass that integrates thrash and power rhythms with its tremolo fury. The bitter heaviness is paralleled with blast beats that shift to grooved or galloping paces in cooperation with the melodic developments, and sections of militaristic and war drumming are further noted. Anguish and rage are projected from harsh vocals, and the use of clean varieties enhances the overall folk quality, with something like character interactions also transpiring at points of exchange between these styles. The cumulative elemental strength reaches a grand magnitude that soars even higher with soloing, and this work simultaneously seizes new glory and reaffirms an earlier triumph.
BLACK ALTAR / VULTURE LORD Deathiah Manifesto
Death is proclaimed supreme as these hordes conspire in darkness, with their unholy acts and grimness dually summoning the nocturnal spirit of Deathiah Manifesto, and its orchestrations possess the elemental means to inspire terror and destruction. Shadow leads the rites of BLACK ALTAR while notable musicians from acts including MORK, ENSHADOWED, and VADER fill its ranks, and their riffing evolves with tremolo melodies across blast beats and various striding paces. Wolves howl during a gloomy-noted passage, and a grooving rhythm accommodates melodic arpeggiations, which reveal a brooding tone when slower variations sweep toward further glaring dissonance. This core blackness is enshrouded in the ominous ritualistic vibrations of two ambient tracks, where low cellos and synths play over incantations carried out among the participants, and VULTURE LORD soon follows with a cover of VULCANO’s “Dominios of Death.” They imbue this old school gem with a modern edge before waging an original strike, and the total aural harshness is expanded by its thrash and punk incorporations. Bursts of leadwork tear through the frenzied blasts and turbulent rhythmic shifts on “Bloodstained Ritualknives,” and the vocals also take an intensely grim turn with the immortal presence of Trondr Nefas (RIP). Spoken samples confirm the apocalyptic impressions of a closing instrumental, and the combined result of atmospheric immensity with these two primeval varieties is a Black Mass demanding fervent attendance.
The Dutch embodiment of disgust returns with their second consecutive release, and II expands on the potency of last year’s effort with its diverse range of features, which are integrated throughout and enrich specific compositional tones without making them overly symphonic. Ominous vibrations are invoked as rhythms strike with rapid force, and sinister progressions are amplified by multiple vicious or anguished vocal torments. Clean vocals also appear during certain majestic passages, where tremolo melodies and other noted intricacies develop alongside driving riffs, and one leaves a notable impact when timing a drum shift with its altering vocal melodies. Percussive intensity often matches the evolving melodic layers, and these are occasionally highlighted through slower paces and grooves. Some rhythmic sections flow with the entrancement from haunting synths, and psychedelic influences circulate within a riff on “Zondvloed” before acoustic strings and vocals conjure a folk aura. Industrial areas also unfold, along with epic Egyptian settings and a myriad of other instrumental effects, and they all interact favorably with melody and ravaging fury to craft a remarkably evocative opus.