In this post I’m combining reviews of two short releases that were recommended by friends whose names may be familiar to long-time readers of our site — the first by .jh (Obitus) and the second by eiterorm. I owe them thanks, because both of these releases are excellent, and they also complement each other very well.
Between 2008 and 2014 the Swedish band Waning released two albums and four shorter works, including a contribution to the Elemental Nightmares series of splits in 2014 that we wrote about incessantly. The song on that 2014 split turns out to be the last of Waning’s output, because at the start of this month they announced that the band had ended. However, members of Waning (one of whom is also in the aforementioned Obitus) and Black Drop Effect have formed a new group named Ov Shadows, and they have recently released a three-track EP called Monologues.
You can’t always tell what music will sound like from song titles. But in the case of these Monologues, they provide meaningful clues. With titles such as “Lifeless Cold They Gaze Upon”, “The Ash That Covers All”, and “In Darkness Resounding”, you expect bleak, shadow-cloaked, blood-freezing music, and you do get that — and more.
An atmosphere of preternatural peril emanates from the tracks like a choking fog, but the songs also include eruptions of wild, feral savagery — no less grim, but terrifyingly more intense. The melodies are dissonant and uneasy, the guitars resembling chimes ringing within a catacombs where angry spirits have risen from their tombs. When the drums begin to blast and the heavy, grinding bass lines become more agitated, the chiming melodies are joined by poisonous, swarming riffs that give the music a harrowing ferocity.
The songs’ scary intensity is equally attributable to the wild, barbaric vocals. Adjectives like grating, gruesome, agonized, strangled, throat-slitting, and lacerating come to mind. It’s quite a performance.
For all the morbid, perilous, and unearthly atmosphere of these songs, they are also mesmerizing, with the last track in particular becoming almost sweeping and panoramic as the music mounts to a fury.
Monologues is absolutely gripping. Waning may have been laid to rest, but Ov Shadows have risen from the pyre like a phoenix. It’s going to be fun to watch their flight continue.
SHRINE OF INSANABILIS
On September 2, the World Terror Committee released a two-song EP by Germany’s Shrine of Insanabilis called Tombs opened by fervent tongues…. This follows the band’s 2015 debut album Disciples of the Void, from which we premiered two songs and which eiterorm included on his NCS list of 2015’s best releases. So it took no convincing for me to pounce upon this new EP when I learned of it — and as I then learned, both songs are brilliant.
As eiterorm observed in his message to me, the first track, “Burning Voice”, begins with the familiar Dopplering tones that conclude the entrancing outro of the debut album, and from there it continues exactly as vehemently and dissonantly as fans of that album would expect. The drums begin to tumble, the riffs to seethe, the electricity to crackle. Soon, the building bonfire begins to blaze, with the vocalist’s bestial growls and rising howls joining the surging force of the instrumental sounds.
At first, “Hamartia” is perhaps more steeped in melancholy than the preceding track, perhaps more entrancing in its rippling (though still dissonant) melody, yet this song also becomes sweepingly dramatic and intense, fueled by a fierce emotional power as it builds to a crescendo, the vocalist reaching new heights of searing passion.
With this enthralling release, this unusually gifted band continue to prove what a powerful new presence they are rapidly becoming in black metal. The only complaint I have about Tombs… is the predictable whine of the greedy man… it’s not enough.