Van Records

Wolvennest – Temple Review

Wolvennest – Temple Review

“Belgium is a weird place. Maybe it’s the chocolate or waffles, but any country that offers groups like Neptunian Maximalism, Emptiness, or Amenra & Co. needs to have its cholesterol checked. Spewing out bizarre organic atmosphere with haunting repetition, artists like these have strangely minimalist tendencies that end up feeling bigger than the individual parts suggest. While spanning a broad range of metallic subgenres, it comes across as otherworldly, surreal, and fiercely dark. To add their two cents to these Belgian shenanigans is Wolvennest.” Temple of Weird.

The Ruins of Beverast – The Thule Grimoires Review

The Ruins of Beverast – The Thule Grimoires Review

“Thule: the northern most part of the ancient world. Grimoire: a text that invokes an evil magic. With his seventh full-length, Alexander von Meilenwald – the single figure at the heart of The Ruins of Beverast – journeys northwards and backwards into a mystical, malevolent past. Gone is the shapeshifting shamanism of 2017’s Exuvia. Only the cold embrace of frost and despair remains.” Thule’s gold.

Árstíðir lífsins – Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

Árstíðir lífsins – Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

Árstíðir lífsins was perhaps my most joyous discovery of 2019. I’ve heard Norse-themed black metal done before, but never the way this trio does it. Saga á tveim tungum I: Vápn ok viðr confidently strode into my top ten for the year, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating the followup record ever since.” Saga for the ages.

Stormkeep – Galdrum Review

Stormkeep – Galdrum Review

“The potential of a debut release is a magical thing. This year, I’ve been blown away by first-ever offerings, left dismayed and discouraged by initial encounters, and experienced decided mediocrity with hope for something better next time. Suffice it to say, I like writing reviews with no prior experience for a sound; the temptation to compare an act to what they once were is, to me, less exciting than the comparison to what they could be. And so, from the dark corners of the United States, I present to you Galdrum, the debut full-length from Stormkeep, who play symphonic black metal and have an awesome album cover.” Dark impressions.

Núll – Entity Review

Núll – Entity Review

“Off the top of my balding head, I can’t think of a genre that’s more difficult to pull off convincingly than depressive suicidal black metal. It takes quite a talented hand to navigate that particular battleship down those choppy seas. Go too hard, and you run the risk of being unlistenable, borderline or not. Go too soft, and you’re tossed into the tar pits and forever labeled a “try-hard edgelord” by those who should know better than to go that route. So I can empathize with any band trying to crack into that difficult niche market, and it doesn’t hurt that in this case, we have a band comprised of members of Carpe Noctem and Misþyrming.” Balancing despair.

Bezwering – Aan De Wormen Overgeleverd Review

Bezwering – Aan De Wormen Overgeleverd Review

Bezwering are traditional in more than one sense of the word. Musically they’re simple straight-up black metal, their wave-quotient roughly 1.7 (mostly second wave with some hints of first wave). There’s some decent riffs and good energy in these tracks, featuring a pretty nasty screech and frantic blastbeats atop swirling tremolos. That describes 98% of all black metal, so to stand out from the crowd, Bezwering brought three weapons.” Wormen problems.

Sweven – The Eternal Resonance Review

Sweven – The Eternal Resonance Review

“I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering what Chuck Schuldiner would have done musically had he not been taken from us far too soon. Would he have maintaining the style heard on the sole Control Denied release or move things onward and outward into ever weirder environs? These questions were front and center in my head as I digested The Eternal Resonance, the stunningly odd and original debut album by Sweven.” Ripples in music and time.

Knoest – Dag Review

Knoest – Dag Review

“Almost everything worth doing has been done so often that metal itself is now officially a very, very bad idea. And yet, every time I think that, Beaten to Death or Abstract Void or Embrace of Disharmony nutchecks me. Knoest, three dudes from Gelderland, “decided to write a piece of music based on the inspiration [from] driving and hiking through our surroundings during the afternoon, the evening, the morning, and the night.” That premise doesn’t scream six (a.m.) to midnight, but the other card up their sleeve might make their debut Dag a bit more enticing.” A day in the life.