The second half of 2022 is already upon us, and with the rising inferno of this season comes an equally harsh collection of new releases to explore. As humanity pursues a degenerative course, these dark arts record its inevitable downfall while providing an outlet and escape from our perpetual shitstorm, and infernal forces are hailed through the vehemence of their executions. Influences of doom and despair combine with majesty from ancient mythical settings, along with the madness of unbounded nether regions, and they reflect coincident soundscapes laden with evocative substance. A limited supply of time continues to haunt my days, and so hopefully this sample highlights some of the many worthwhile efforts that emerged during the last month.
GREH Age of Resentment
A new pulse is pounding away at the foundations of Germany, with the Slovenian essence of “Sin” carried in its name, and this transgressive quality oozes from Age of Resentment alongside a sludgy bitterness directed toward faith and humanity. Riffing is central to the bass-heavy distortion, and its crunch bears down at points while pursuing memorable courses. Notes join in bleak resonating dissonance and form shapes that swagger across various grooves, and some descend for a doom augmented by slower paces. Those tempos are consistent throughout, and their vitality is heightened when the drumming integrates different fills and double bass patterns. A stoner element is also pronounced, and its haze intensifies when a spaced-out effect soars during “Winter Grief.” This is also reflected in the prevailing vocal torments, which include deviations to encompass a range of metal genres, and they harmonize effectively within the primal beginnings represented on this EP. The style here is somewhat outside my usual sphere, admittedly, but its grooving arrangements manage to captivate, and it also possesses the anguish-infused darkness and irreligious sentiments I find relatable. The hymns project these energies with a firm resolve, and it will be interesting to see how this entity evolves on a full-length exhibition.
GRAVESPAWN Scourge of the Realm
The shadows of a distant past have been unearthed in the USA, and their mystique is fully realized on this new blood-soaked quest from GRAVESPAWN. A grim and glorious spirit emanates from its arrangements, with fierce blast-beaten and striding paces that strike alongside vast riffing auras, and these also delve into grooved and galloping rhythms that charge toward imaginative horizons. The progressions are often enhanced by melodic shapes varying with glimpses of frenzied precision and spellbinding allure, which become especially pronounced during calm or slower sections, and they effectively coincide with the tones of those heavier influences. Heightened tremolo currents emerge at calculated points to drive evolving culminations, and epic peaks follow when leadwork demonstrates further dexterity. These manifestations are matched with distinct vocal patterns from harsh rasps, along with the occasional emphasis from deeper layers, and spoken or narrational areas offer a different immersive aspect to the medieval essence. Grand visions of battle are conveyed throughout, but they take definitive hold within interlude passages, where other folk elements are noted among a myriad of instrumental and atmospheric features. Compelling levels of dynamism and intricately weaved songcraft are exercised on Scourge of the Realm, and it makes for an engaging and highly evocative mythical venture.
FAUSTIAN SPIRIT Blessed By the Wings of Eternity
A new presence has entered the material planes of Chile, and its debut manifestation combines spectral influences with the mist-shrouded splendor of ancient realms. A stony castle-like cold is discerned in the production, where blast beats drive the bitterness emanating from detailed tremolo courses, and a rhythmic ebb and flow emerges within multiple sections to highlight their dynamism. The riffing also delves into thicker tremolo or chord layers, with heavy and dissonant progressions that conjure a looming bleakness, and they often advance with leadwork and groove rhythms to form heightened encounters. Their cumulative impact is taken further by the menace of organ keys and dark atmospheric tones, along with the grim appeal from a range of vocal projections, and auras with other epic melodies occasionally transcend the gloom. Acoustic strings weave another level of complexity throughout this journey, and certain passages include sounds of a crackling hearth and footsteps in the forest to promote an immersive quality. A closing instrumental of spaced-out eeriness seals its enchantment, and this ambient variety parallels the raw blackness to offer a distinguished first adventure from FAUSTIAN SPIRIT.
MERIHEM Incendiary Darkness
A warped dimension has appeared between multiple linked points on the global sphere, and its first encounter unveils limitless hostilities within a fitting title of Incendiary Darkness. The gateway into this otherworldly realm is indicated by a cosmic guitar passage, and its unsettling tone is carried across the torment and chaos invoked from vivid instrumental formulas. Various tremolo and noted disturbances lurk among the menace of heavier layers, along with the dread issuing from other melodic and arpeggiated shapes, and some extend to the melancholy produced by lead effects as sinister culminations take hold. These deranged influences pierce through the abyssal mass, which progresses with its own malignant contorting details throughout, and brooding forces are imposed in areas where fluctuating currents elevate the insanity. A disorienting frenzy is compounded by the rapidity of blasts and intricate percussive fills, and those patterns are especially notable during shifts to grooved flows that emphasize trancelike qualities in the arrangements. A haunting presence expands in overlapping vocal interactions, with sung varieties weaving discord around their harsh demonic counterparts, and strange circulating effects also materialize when the end approaches. They reinforce the nightmarish capacity of this debut curse from MERIHEM, and its astral distortions carve a lasting bout of psychic trauma to drive anticipation for deeper ventures.
HATS BARN Y.a.HW.e.H
This French hate order has projected their next act of malicious devilry, and the terminal state of our world is pushed to the threshold by its amplified genocidal wrath. Ominous ambient passages are scattered throughout this onslaught, with areas of militaristic drumming and torture scenes to strengthen an inhuman resolve, and they infuse atmospheric elements to compound the traditional plague-ridden grimness. An equally relentless appeal is seized from the raw energy channeled through layers of tremolo riffing and melody, which converge in cold dissonance while evolving across vigorous courses, and some currents persist to inflict a hypnotic effect. Varying degrees of negativity take shape as detailed patterns arise within the mass, and the severity escalates through percussive blasts and grooves, along with other rocking beats and slower points of despair. A swaggering rhythmic power is punctuated by glaring notes on “L’enfant doit mourir,” and deranged oscillations on “Absence of Faith” impose heightened levels of torment. These vibrations are matched by the anguish and contempt spewed forth by a ravaging vocal possession, and the flashbacks of SILENCER induced by certain howls are contrasted by a briefly clean sung approach to madness on “Que le sang coule dans les fleuves.” Extensive soloing finalizes Y.a.HW.e.H on another dynamic note, and it stands as a testament of vicious authenticity that many engaging this blackened art fail to fully capture.