This year may be waning, but the black flame of extreme metal remains eternal as strong releases proliferate across our material realm, and now the time arrives once more to delve into some of those formidable offerings. Fierce energies and atmosphere wage a vicious strike on this selection from September, with tones of mysticism and grandeur noted among their ancient and distinguished characteristics, and they advance these unique varieties while keeping the genre’s malignant core intact. With all that must be overlooked, hopefully this reflects a contemplative and eventful exploration for the past month.
GEISTLICHT Hidden in the Mists
Evocative realms have taken form with the debut of this German incarnation, and Hidden in the Mists is a fitting title for the spirits contained within its mysterious veil. Multiple keyboard and synth effects are harnessed throughout, along with other acoustic or clean-stringed features, and enchanting auras with spaced-out or psychedelic moments are induced at various points. They course alongside a raw substance in the riffing, and heavy tremolo progressions reveal striking patterns that occasionally descend toward underworldly depths. Those regions are paralleled by different melodic layers and leads, which emerge through noted designs with heightened tremolo energies, and sometimes the keyboard features soar notably with the likeness of a lead. Complex interweaved levels of melody and atmosphere develop from an effective harmonization between these arrangements, and their solemn trance is sustained by the emphasis on mid-paced flowing tempos, but rapid intervallic blasts and double bass also advance areas with a vicious edge. This is further displayed in the expressive force of deeper vocal rasps, and transcendent states are realized before ultimately prevailing in the final atmospheric immersion. The natural shamanic wonder here is particularly intriguing, and it combines with the ethereal and cold earthly darkness to forge an illuminating journey.
The change in season has brought about a second full rite from this Finnish enchantress, with the colored leafage of Fall represented in the title Ruska, and that type of beauty in death is what unfolds in its orchestrations. A fully immersive atmosphere takes flight through sounds of a crackling hearth and multiple instrumental elements, and their ancient spirit permeates the harshness of riff masses that reveal striking and rhythmic chord structures, along with tremolo layers reaching both the underworld and heightened evocative points. Various melodic forms continue entwining with heavier currents, and majestic passages develop when they combine with the other ambient features. Dissonant and arpeggiated shapes coincide with realms of brooding darkness, and these multifarious arrangements progress with flowing paces and strides driven by different percussive designs, including an especially distinct and ritualistic beat produced on the title track. Areas of blasting intensity are also traversed, and those are where deep vocal rasps often exert a ravaging influence. Its presence becomes more subdued by layering beneath clean-sung expressions, which illustrates a true highlight as Vermilia’s alluring voice soars over the surrounding aural immensity, and it completes a unique portrayal of the pagan spirit that captivates while offering a mighty expansion to her musical collective.
This elite warrior from the USA is displaying tireless ambitions with his second full output for 2022, and it summons a dark immersive substance to capitalize on April’s debut. Mystical and archaic times are revived by various instrumental passages, which employ clean and acoustic strings along with ambient effects, and these are scattered throughout a battle-torn realm evoked within the harsher arrangements. Their sound is drenched in the glory of a distant past over vast riffing structures, where a thick frost prevails among deep menacing tones and tremolos, and the latter extends toward epic points with certain fluctuating currents while others tread a dismal descent. This dreary spirit is also pronounced when bells toll, and they occasionally collide with dissonant qualities to produce a resounding eeriness. A monstrous vocal presence echoes these grim scenes, with commanding layers that bring an expressive edge to the extremity, and sections with droning chants enhance a spellbinding atmosphere. The fury and gloom are further driven by percussive rhythms, including a versatility exercised through the abrupt blasting speed shifts of one grand development, and hypnotic influences take hold with a burden during slower paces. These reveal the detail of arpeggiated masses that recall certain Scandinavian pioneers, and elements of doom continue in riffs with crushing strikes. Leadwork seals the evocative heights of this quest, and its gritty appeal makes for a work laden with enchanting potential.
A rampage is underway with the third full conjuration from NORDJEVEL, and planes of plague-ridden devastation are left by its unrelenting fury. Blasting paces drive the frenzy alongside riffs that strike with thrashy techniques, and their sharpened attack integrates various accented patterns to augment the punishment. Icy qualities accumulate into the masses imposed by heavier structures, along with disturbed auras emitted when tremolo layers converge, and sinister vibrations abound through a multitude of arpeggiated and melodic forms. String contortions highlight certain riffing sections while clean effects bring out a different level of derangement, and other fret designs blur across the turbulence with technical prowess. The wrathful force is sustained throughout, but rhythms also shift to draw focus on sinister details, including grooved areas with a lurking grimness or beats that stride to the sounds of torture, and those sampled torments effectively heighten the cold and dissonant intensity. This harsh atmosphere is compounded by the sickness and possession of twisted vocals, and no mercy exists during points of elemental culmination, with multiple currents soaring amid the shreddery from lead melodies and solos. A notably tragic display of gloom is discerned on “Endritual,” and its dynamism finalizes the vicious distinction of Gnavhòl, which executes the tactics to seize triumph for these northern devils.
PESTLEGION Sathanas Grand Victoria
Infernal forces reign supreme in Germany as PESTLEGION unleashes their second full-length curse, and a blasphemous scourge is inflicted across the hostility of its acts. An apocalyptic setting rises from the ominous and militaristic introduction, and a cryptic spirit ravages the production when madness blasts ahead. Overlapping vocal rasps magnify a diabolical presence among the savagery, and a cold bleakness emanates from riffing that combines heavy and tremolo layers into a massive storm, where different rhythmic forms also emerge with rocking elements and intricate fretted shapes. Areas of arpeggiated malice are produced amid other malevolent varieties, and they harmonize effectively with the deeper distortions to conjure numerous striking encounters. The percussion deviates from pummeling frenzy to augment these darker shades, with detailed fills and patterns noted among the grooving excursions, and some utilize double bass while merging with fierce escalations in the riffage, which often advances with heightened tremolo melodies or leadwork to reach grandiose levels. The arrangements sustain a primitive fury throughout, but doses of choral ambience and organs expand the atmospheric vitality, along with the distinct mystical elements of one gloomy evocation, and acoustics further mark a strain of pestilence that delivers havoc to the holy and a potent offering upon blackened altars.