Agalloch

Liminal Shroud – All Virtues Ablaze Review

Liminal Shroud – All Virtues Ablaze Review

“I was first alerted to the upcoming release of All Virtues Ablaze, the second full-length record from Canada’s Liminal Shroud, in a social media post by Hypnotic Dirge Records. That post brought excitement, as I loved the band’s debut record, Through the False Narrows, which was a proper, pitch-black soundtrack to my 2020 Autumn. Hypnotic Dirge’s post also, however, brought sadness, as, in a rather classy fashion, it was promoting the upcoming release of All Virtues Ablaze, even though Liminal Shroud had moved labels (to the very good Willowtip) because Hypnotic Dirge is winding down its operations.” Thresholds, shrouds and bittersweet endings.

Alburnum – Buitenlucht Review

Alburnum – Buitenlucht Review

“Certain things just go together. Prawn and avocado. Holdeneye and 4.0s. Ozzy and Black Sabbath. You get the gist. Two of those things are “black metal” and “nature.” From its early pagan roots, black metal has always had a close affinity with the great outdoors, rejecting rigid theism for a more atavistic, mystical spiritualism. It’s why half the shitty black metal videos you see happen in forests or on mountaintops. New Dutch band, Alburnum (another name for “Sapwood”) are therefore trodding well-worn ground; when compatriots, Fluisteraars have an album with flowers all over the cover, you’re going to have a tough time out-naturing the competition.” Play outside!

Serpentent – Mother of Light Review

Serpentent – Mother of Light Review

“If all you want is raw riffs, skull-crushing rhythms, or dissonant aggression, you’ve come to the wrong place. Serpentent’s debut full-length Mother of Light flirts casually with distorted guitars and heavier percussion, but there’s no metal to be found here. The brainchild of Seattle multi-instrumentalist Anne K. O’Neill, Serpentent plays minimalist dark folk music built around O’Neill’s emotive vocals and acoustic guitars. Spring 2022 has set a high bar for folky non-metal around these parts, with Urferd releasing an intricate slab of Nordic folk and Darkher continuing to set the standard for introspective doom. Mother of Light doesn’t quite reach those lofty heights, but it’s a pleasant surprise in a crowded genre.” Snake charming.

Falls of Rauros – Key to a Vanishing Future Review

Falls of Rauros – Key to a Vanishing Future Review

“This multi-instrument outfit continues to work with its traditional format of six tracks over forty-five minutes. But, while this new record doesn’t have anything you haven’t already heard, the band has a knack for execution. Somehow, they continue to breathe uniqueness into each effort and supply just enough originality to make each new record different from the last.” Vanishing returns?

Izthmi – Leaving This World, Leaving it All Behind Review

Izthmi – Leaving This World, Leaving it All Behind Review

Izthmi sure have a sense of timing. Their debut album, The Arrows of Our Ways, was released in mid-February 2020, right around the time a certain virus you may have heard of began entering the news…  Despite impressing a cantankerous Grymm with its progressive and melodic take on atmospheric black metal (as well as a frankly gorgeous cover), it kinda got lost in the craziness that followed.” Storms and storming out.

Noltem – Illusions in the Wake Review

Noltem – Illusions in the Wake Review

“It’s an uncomfortable moment in a reviewer’s life when you stumble across some promo blurb from a band’s label or PR company that is actually right on the money. While I recognize it must be no easy life if your day job is relentlessly writing promo for bands, these mini-essays are normally so pumped full of hyperbole, so riddled with awkward phraseology and so glowing with praise that this band is the second coming of [insert relevant genre titan], that the write-ups are effectively useless as a guide to the band one is about to sonically ingest. Every now and again, however, the promo hits the nail on the head. Such was the case for Connecticut-based atmospheric black metal trio Noltem and its debut, Illusions in the Wake.” Good PR.

Wolves in the Throne Room – Primordial Arcana Review

Wolves in the Throne Room – Primordial Arcana Review

Wolves in the Throne Room is an important band for me. When I was just getting into black metal, I found my way to the early albums in the band’s discography, which demonstrated to me the intrinsic and glorious bond black metal has with nature. I was absolutely captivated and I still consider the trilogy of Diadem of 12 Stars, Two Hunters and Black Cascade to be one of the strongest in black metal’s catalog. While I may be less enamored with the later albums (Thrice Woven, apart from its thunderous opener, left me cold), I feel a very close affinity with the band, and any new release is a very big deal to this reviewer.” Wolves or sheep?

Vouna – Atropos Review

Vouna – Atropos Review

Vouna was one of my first reviews here at AMG. While I certainly feel dated by the release of Atropos, it also allows me time to reflect. Sole member Yianna Bekris has undoubtedly honed her craft, and I’d like to think that I have as well, even as the morale-boosting beatings continue and the terrifying ape-in-charge keeps staring at me from the dark corner over there. An associate of Wolves in the Throne Room‘s Weaver brothers, Bekris took me completely off-guard with Vouna‘s self-titled debut in 2018, an effort dubbed “funeral doom” but was anything but the bellowing subterranean lurching we’ve come to know and love. Atropos offers a huge step forward, adding a healthy dose of obscurity and an unrelentingly bleak atmosphere to sink your teeth into.” Bleak houses.

Anael – Mare Review

Anael – Mare Review

“Black metal carries an image, a culture, and an aesthetic. You know the hallmarks: corpse-paint, leather, spikes, frosty forests, an appreciation of all things blasphemous and evil. Initially shocking and terrifying, its image becomes tacky and cringeworthy with repeated exposure, so I’ve discovered greater appreciation for humble musicians who don’t buy into the novelty. Anael is such an act.” Restrained kvltness.

Scáth Na Déithe – The Dirge of Endless Mourning [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

Scáth Na Déithe – The Dirge of Endless Mourning [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

“There’s something special about the Irish metal. Mythological elements intertwine with its primordial melodies in a unique blend of sounds that conjure rage, desperation, melancholy, and heritage, often simultaneously. One-man project from Rush, Scáth Na Déithe is a shining example of this balancing act of death and black metal.” Dirge and purge.