BENEATH THE NCS RADAR (PART 17): SACRILEGIOUS IMPALEMENT, BELENOS, WORMREICH, DIABOLUS AMATOR, GRAVESPAWN, VESTERIAN, VAHRZAW
( Norwegian blogger Gorger is back, highlighting still more releases that we have overlooked. To find more of his discoveries, type “Gorger” in our search bar or visit Gorger’s Metal.)
Three months have flown by since my last installment. Sorry to keep you waiting. Not that you’ve been waiting, but you know you’ve been missing out on something in the meanwhile. I’ve grown a long list of candidates, but I’d rather not overheat your brain, so we’ll be focusing on a quadruple set as usual, with a further installment coming very soon.
SACRILEGIOUS IMPALEMENT – III – LUX INFERA
III – Lux Infera was initially released in 2013, and I wrote about it in Norwegian only back then. With this re-release, I fortunately get to present it to other readers as well, and I get to showcase my eco-friendly green side by recycling my old BS.
The band hails from Suomi Perkele (aka Finland) and have two previous full-length albums on their putrid conscience. This is raw black metal that combines several typical Nordic elements like tough, stalwart attitude and mischievous moods. Pace-wise, the band fits nicely into the Finish and Swedish league, with a fairly high tempo, although not ferociously fast. Utterly delightful “For Sins of the Pigs” is the most down-tempo song, with some more typically Norwegian atmospheric passages. It has killer riffing and unpleasant melody lines in unholy harmony.
I would also like to highlight the apt grandiose and grim sound. There is something delightfully arrogant about fiery ill-tempered black metal that hits you in the face with such a grand, stand-tall expression in the sound.
It’s hard to be original if you play pure black metal these days, so you’ll need strong material combined with technical quality to stand apart from the crowd. This album is somewhat similar to many others, but not identical to any, and not very much resembling any classical reference band. I initially wrote that comparisons would be a bit pointless, but you might say that there are hints of Dissection to the melodies, Behemoth in the monumentality, and Marduk in the prime evil expression.
This might not be an eternal classic if compared to existing classics, but in 2016 I still recognize and embrace III – Lux Infera, as it embraces me with its darkness. With the sheer amount of music that passes through my ears, and my steadily decreasing memory, that is a sign that should not be underestimated. The songs are sturdy and have enough distinctiveness to not just remind of everything else. The instrumentation is also at the level where it ought to be.
Sacrilegious Impalement have definitively succeeded at crafting a killer piece of black magic.
III – LUX INFERA was released by Woodcut Records on May 1st.
Check out the art and picture collage video for “Down for Grim Lord”, before streaming the rest below.
BELENOS – KORNŌG
21 years ago, Loļc Cellier from the Celtic region of Brittany in western France started the one-man band Belenos, named after the Celtic sun god of the same name. Loļc was inspired by the Norwegian wave of black metal, which was no stranger to incorporating some folk and Viking elements, and Belenos too blends black baselines with pagan/folk-inspirations and atmospheric elements.
During the latter half of the nineties, three demos were released before our brave Celtic Gaul, Loļc Cellierix, was eventually accompanied by several musicians on his heroic journey. Belenos grew rapidly in census and released the debut as a full band in 2001. After two albums, however, Loļc returned to the lonesome format. With Belenos now releasing its sixth work, six years have also passed since last time.
Kornōg starts off with the title track which, after a lovely but oh so brief intro with fiddling, plunges into melodic black waters where the sea boils and the sea spray is foaming white. The lively guitars have an exotic whiff of one thousand and one nights, while deep Viking vocals sing their ode to homelands and legends of Ginnungagap from Viking ships in uncharted waters. Just-right audible bass and varied percussion create a strong drive, and the song must be regarded as a perfectly wonderful start.
“Sklosenn ur vag” is set in motion by acoustic guitars and more excellent violin. Serene and quiet evenings in beautiful surroundings and intense themes of conflict from perilous black forests occur sporadically in good, familiar, and evocative contrast. While “E donder ar mor” mainly focuses on the intense, “Lidkerzh an anaon” to a bigger degree deals with the emotional aspect of a reasonably moody album.
Few songs are quite on par with the first song. Needless to say, the album would have been even better if that were the case, but it’s nevertheless a mighty good album. “D’an usved” is an honorable exception of (almost) entirely 13 minutes. Belenos presents few songs with a consistently melodic theme on Kornōg. Most have more loosely interconnected melodic antics that nevertheless create a cohesive atmosphere. “D’an usved”, however, presents both aspects in a poignant melancholy wrapping. Melody lines vary and create drama with good flow in an utterly superb anthem. An otherwise ideal and exemplary choice for the first online preview of the album.
When “Sord-mor” follows up with huge chunks of striking guitar works, especially when compared with other bands in the atmospheric, melodic folk/viking/pagan black metal landscape, it’s easy to forget (hell, even forgive) that there are weaker moments and small skerry reefs in the middle of the sea. Some sequences can even remind of folkloric Sogna-metal, while the violin also has the opportunity to show off through a few passages.
Kornōg doesn’t have only the band’s most inviting cover. Even the music emerges so well-executed, vibrant, vital, and varied that I think I’ll declare this to be the band’s best, despite some debris, and my halfway-peripheral relationship to Loļc‘s works. The album is well-played, the sound is rich, and most compositions surpass much in related musical territories. Moods of Celtic and Norse origins, with flattering tones of raids in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, tastes terrific.
Among the eight songs plus an interlude totaling close to an hour, there are three small things I’d like more of.
• The least good songs being on par with the best.
• Better phonetic dynamics. This clever, refined and detailed music deserves more than DR5.
• More violin. Damn, that fiddle is gorgeous!
Otherwise, the album is excellent.
KORNŌG was released by Northern Silence Productions on September 9th.
WORMREICH, DIABOLUS AMATOR, GRAVESPAWN, VESTERIAN — INFIRMOS VOCAT DEUS FIDEI (Split)
Your poor little brain overheated yet? No? Well, let me try another approach than, by throwing four bands your way simultaneously.
This is a split uniting four American black metal bands, all of which contribute three songs each. 64 minutes of sinister black malevolence, mostly of high quality, provides great value for the money.
My only previous acquaintance is a meeting with Wormreich‘s EP Wormcult Revelations from 2014, which followed the band’s so-far only full-length album, Edictvm DCLXVI from 2011. This split became the last recording that guitarist and keyboardist Nazgul Vathron took part in before tragically dying in a car accident, only 30 years old, on tour last year. The tragic event was covered by Islander here.
After a quick warm-up with said EP, I must say that Wormreich disappoints a clue. The sound is far from as killer as on Wormcult Revelations. The sound also varies too much from song to song. The music itself ain’t bad, though.
Their black metal has elements of atmosphere and dissonance, and ingredients of dystopia and rituals. Besides, it’s possibly a bit unreasonable to expect that the band will manage to maintain the same high standards on every release, and the EP was also exceptionally good. The band takes up about 19 minutes, and presents quite good black metal, which still would have come more into its own with a stronger production. Maybe it’s difficult to find a good sound-studio for blasphemous extreme metal in Alabama, in the heart of the despised Bible Belt.
Diabolus Amator was a one-man band, started in Virginia in 2012. “Abyss” has released two albums, moved to Texas, and employed two assistants. The band delivers nearly ten minutes of ice cold and knife-piercing black disgust. The production is cold, bleak, and sharp in a way that suits the music well. With moods and variety, the song material also works very well. Raw, heretical, and tough as nails.
Gravespawn are located in Los Angeles and have ten years and one album behind them. Some months after this split, the band presented a promising EP named Inexorable Grimness, that I haven’t yet heard in its entirety. The band’s 15-minute contribution on this split, however, will unfortunately remain as the least interesting part in my ears. The band’s fairly melodic approach to black tonality is far from polished. It is on the contrary rather woolly. Especially in the live recording, but also in the two studio songs. The music would have been quite alright, albeit still rather run-of-the-mill, if the sound had been better.
At just over 20 minutes, Vesterian concludes with the longest sequence. The band also has the longest past, with over 20 years of experience, first under the moniker Centurion. Despite this, as well as a lengthy list of replaced members, the band has just one album to show for, and it wasn’t released until 2013. They admittedly have almost a dozen miscellaneous releases, where demos constitute the majority. On this split they serve fuming and fiery black metal with frenzied instrumentation and jagged, mocking vocals. The vocals surpass the other contributors, something even the rich and glowing sound does, unless you prefer the more necrotic and cutting variety.
By logically enough finishing with dessert, the listener is left with the best possible last impression of a split consisting of a lot of diabolic black metal that allows the listener to become acquainted with several bands at once. Although everything ain’t on the same level, I’m generally very satisfied with Infirmos Vocat Deus Fidei.
INFIRMOS VOCAT DEUS FIDEI was released by Symbol Of Domination and Black Plague Records on May 28th.
VAHRZAW – TWIN SUNS & WOLVES’ TONGUES
I started with a re-release, and I’m ending with one too. I’m not equally environmentally friendly this time, as I’ve only recycled parts of my own old words.
The Australians’ history stretches back to 1992. They adopted their current moniker a few years later and endured until 1998. After a seven year long hiatus, the trio was back in the saddle in 2005. The band made an early switch from lethal death metal to pitch-black death threats, but have retained elements of capital punishment that shine through in a threatening matter.
Twin Suns & Wolves’ Tongues was released independently a couple of years ago, before Blood Harvest now re-releases it after having picked it up from the moldy gutter. The album still feels fresh and raw.
The sound is ripping, and the band master the genre with panache, sporting excellent and varied tunes, peppered with hostile rage, bestial dark moods and delightfully unpredictable transitions, seasoned with delicate ghastly and morbid solos, proggy technicality, and furious, rasping vocals. The lads offers authentic uncompromising black metal without boring the listener with generic and uneventful structures. Roughly half a dozen bands per ten could have learned a thing or two from their clever compositions, which make no compromise and sacrifice nothing at the expense of hostility, aggression, anger, and disgust.
I won’t say more here and now, but rather present my erstwhile words from April 2014:
This is album number two from Australian Vahrzaw, who released their debut in 2009. The band plays black/death of the evocative kind, and has an expression more typical of Scandinavia than Australia. Death metal of the dirty type, and solos in the vein of Morbid Angel, provide a solid underground feel, while onyx-black moods and vocals paint the devil on the wall. Whether or not Vahrzaw‘s honorable attempt to conjure him out of drywalls and (analogue) wallpaper succeeds unfortunately remains unknown, but the band has at least created a good half an hour of unholy extremities. Not all the songs have as much drift, diversity, and moods, and so everything doesn’t fascinate an old dog just as much, but there’s still a lot of killer shit going on here, thus, this is obviously approved.
This is one hell of an album!
TWIN SUNS & WOLVES’ TONGUES was released by Blood Harvest on August 26th.
That’s it for this time, but I promise to make up for lack of activity on my behalf by being back soon. Real soon. (Albeit exactly how soon really depends on Islander.)
The Belenos album is so good. Gonna rate high for the year. SO many good riffs!