Black Metal

Crystal Coffin – The Starway Eternal Review

Crystal Coffin – The Starway Eternal Review

“I’ve often stated that more than any other form of contemporary music, black metal is good at conveying abstract emotion rather than concrete narratives. It’s why, for many of us, the fact that we don’t understand a single word being sung isn’t a problem: the lyrics don’t matter (and are sometimes best left undisturbed, to be frank). This abstraction thrives on allowing personal interpretations of an aesthetic, but can flounder when conveying meaning through traditional story-telling. To put it another way: telling a complex story, when you’ve hobbled yourself by relying upon unintelligible shrieks and howls—and operating in the limited emotional bandwidth of fury and contempt—is like cooking a complex dish without basic ingredients.” When the medium is not the message.

Zetar – Devouring Darkness Review

Zetar – Devouring Darkness Review

“Formed in 2019 as a solo act from Austin, Texas, the now international trio Zetar are so new and obscure that I couldn’t even locate an entry for them on the hallowed Encyclopaedia Metallum database. That might be due to the fact that the group entirely avoided releasing any demos, EPs, singles, or live recordings leading up to their debut record, Devouring Darkness. It could also be that the community running Metallum suddenly decided to act like a bunch of lowlife slackers, but I suppose we’ll never know.” Obscurity and site beefin’.

Antichrist Siege Machine – Purifying Blade Review

Antichrist Siege Machine – Purifying Blade Review

Antichrist Siege Machine paints the gates of metal with the blood of Christendom. Subtlety is not their strongest trait. Berserk and bludgeoning attacks, void of humanity, are at the core of this Virginian duo’s battering ram. Antichrist Siege Machine’s debut full-length, 2019’s Schism Perpetration, kick-started their brainless siege against nuance. The record is 28-minutes of celestial warfare fetishization. Blazing chariots rip through flesh, worshipers are disemboweled on altars, Satan opens up his fiery pit wherever he pleases, and a general state of empyrean slaughter is captured through deep, churning metal. The war against Christendom is unrelenting and Antichrist Siege Machine has spotted another chance for carnage.” Blade in full.

Paydretz – Chroniques de l’Insurrection Review

Paydretz – Chroniques de l’Insurrection Review

“If there’s something that black metal bands have been flocking to lately, besides corpse paint and hooded sweatshirts, it’s war. Over the last decade, the genre’s been scouring both World Wars to the point of picking at scraps. Scant few, if any, even bothered to turn their eyes to battles of centuries past, especially when it comes to the French Revolution or, more specifically, the War in the Vendée. A counter-revolution that lasted approximately three years and resulted in the slaughter of countless men, women, and children, the War in the Vendée remains an oft-overlooked bloodbath, save for the occasional historical film or two. Today, French supergroup Paydretz brings this historic tale to light on their debut, Chroniques de l’Insurrection.” Obscure French military history and metal.

Norse – Ascetic Review

Norse – Ascetic Review

“A month ago in the low coast range hills, I found Hellinsia homodactylus folded beneath the lamplight – the modestly named plain plume moth. Mute white in the shape of a Beksiński cross, the insect appears impossible when still, betraying the feathery wings that gasp in the still pockets between oak leaves and wisp in the pupil of the ash-yellowed moon. Theirs is a gaunt beauty, beauty which Norse have both embodied and spurned in their last seven years of stark and intimate black metal.” Nature vs science.

Alkuharmonian Kantaja – Shadowy Peripherals Review

Alkuharmonian Kantaja – Shadowy Peripherals Review

“I like my music weird. It’s a problem, and it’s great. You see, I don’t think there’s really a lot of truly “weird” in metal. Weird musicians, sure. Weird concepts, absolutely—how about those guys who write about mollusks?—but actual, genuine, weirdness? I don’t know. So when I see the fabled “avant-garde black metal” tag floating about in our pile o’ promos, I tend to take first and ask questions later.” Undue diligence done dirt cheap.

Gràb – Zeitlang Review

Gràb – Zeitlang Review

“A hefty chunk of metal has to do with reckonings. Whether about the absence of God, the rejection of the superficially “beautiful,” or the fact that we will all be worm-food one day, bands use the medium to highlight the darker side of a showdown we all must face. If pop is about how we’d like things to be, metal is about how things are. Part of reckoning is looking back honestly at our lives as we get older.  Zeitlang (Yearning), the debut album by Gràb—a German black metal trio created by former Dark Fortress front-man, Grant—centers on an old man who retreats to a cottage deep in the mountains to reflect on his life.” Gràb life!

Iskandr – Vergezicht Review

Iskandr – Vergezicht Review

Iskandr is a duo hailing from the Netherlands who purport, on their third full-length release Vergezicht, to play black metal with “battle-hardened” aggression and mythical atmospheres. I mean, what a great intro. I was already intrigued when I learned that the band drummer is one M. Koops, who makes up one half of Fluisteraars, a different black metal band from the Netherlands who stole my heart early last year.” Flying the banners of Dutch black metal.

Cosmic Burial – …to the Past Review

Cosmic Burial – …to the Past Review

“Atmospheric black metal is the gift which keeps on giving. It will not stop giving, even if you beg it to. Since the mid-90s it has grown out of its blackened roots, adopting folksy strings, shimmering guitars and cosmic synths as it has developed and stratified. There are now literally thousands of bands doing very similar things, all attempting to stand out through the delicate fusion of black metal with emotive atmospheres. Germany’s Cosmic Burial is one such group – or rather, one such individual given that this is (not unusually) a one-man affair.” Too much past, not enough present.