Oct 282012

Here’s a smattering of powerful music and eye-catching album art I heard and saw yesterday that helped make a wet, gray, cold Seattle day more tolerable — despite the fact that all of the music displays the results of blackening.  But I still want my summer back.


I was snooping around the Dark Descent web site looking for news about a release I’ve been expecting. While I was there I spied the two album covers you see at the top of the post. I knew little about the bands, but I thought the album covers were very cool. If you click on them, you’ll see larger versions.

The one on the left is for an album entitled Elegy of the Archeonaut, which collects selected tracks by an Auckland, NZ band named Vassafor. The album will be released at the end of this month and includes music from Vassafor’s early releases as well as unreleased versions of songs and covers. Coincidentally, one of those covers is Vassafor’s version of Beherit’s “Beast of Damnation”, which was also covered by Beyond Mortal Dreams in their excellent EP that I reviewed earlier this week. The killer album cover was created by Aaron Aziel, who’s also from Auckland.

I learned that Vassafor released an album earlier this year named Obsidian Codex, and I found two tracks from it on Soundcloud, both of which can be downloaded for free HERE. More about those after the jump.

The art on the right is for a forthcoming, self-titled debut album by a Toronto blackened death metal band named Paroxsihzem. It’s also scheduled for release by Dark Descent at the end of the month. I haven’t yet found who created the artwork. The artwork was created by the band’s vocalist, Krag. Intrigued by the artwork, I found a Paroxsihzem track called “Nausea” for streaming on Bandcamp.

“Nausea” is a goddamned slug of sonic obliteration aimed straight for your gut. It’s dense, destructive, mangling mayhem, a blackened death metal juggernaut that effectively evokes a doomed, apocalyptic atmosphere. And holy shit, I think I sprang something loose in my neck headbanging to the song’s final minute. Killer stuff.

The two Vassafor tracks are hopeless in a different way. “Obsidian King” is a long, crawling menace of blackened death/doom that occasionally picks up speed just to scare the shit out of the listener. Shrouded in a thick cloud of rancid burrowing guitars, pummeling percussion, and infernal melody, and enhanced by ghastly reverberating vocals, it’s just fuckin’ merciless.  It didn’t do my sore neck any favors either. Overpowering!

“Craft of Dissolution” isn’t as long, and thank gawd for that because I’m not sure I could have survived. Even at six minutes, it’s catastrophic. Big tidal waves of distorted guitar and a super-cool bass performance are the highlights of this dynamic slab of grisly horror. As in the other track, Vassafor also effectively weave a bleak melody through the torrent of head-wrecking demolition work.

Both of these bands are startling new discoveries, proving once again that killer artwork can often be the signposts to killer music.

[bandcamp album=1334742883 bgcol=000000 linkcol=4285BB size=venti]



I really have enjoyed the 2012 release by Ukraine’s Khors, Wisdom of Centuries (reviewed here). The emotionally resonant, atmospheric music on the album creates moods of longing, loss, and anguish, but the songs are also melodically rich and vibrant. It’s a very cool combination of black metal, progressive metal, ambient music, doom, and to a lesser degree folk metal.

Yesterday I saw a new video of the band performing the song “The Last Leaves” from Wisdom on August 2, 2012, at Metal Head’s Mission festival in Crimea, Ukraine. The sound and video quality are both superb, and the music is so powerful — a striking example of sweeping melodic black metal. All the performances are excellent, but the wonderful, echoing guitar solo and the drumming throughout are especially fantastic. I really love this song.



Gehenna are a relatively new discovery for me. They’re based on the West Coast and have been around since the mid-90’s, producing two albums and a truckload of splits and EPs. The most recent release is by A389 RecordingsGehenna East Coast Tour MMXII. It was sold as a tour-only 7″, but A389 has now put a digital version up on Bandcamp for download HERE. It collects three Gehenna tracks that originally appeared on 2010 splits with Blind To Faith and California Love.

What I saw yesterday is a video of the band performing “Dead Shell” and “Win By Attrition” live at Sugar Mountain in Oakland on October 12, 2012. The performance was filmed by Jason Fedele. It’s some heavy shit, a caustic spray of blackened hardcore fury.  Brutal.

After the video I’m embedding the tracks from that recent 7″ comp, too.


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