SHADES OF BLACK (PART 2): ELFSGEDROCH, IMPERCEPTUM, WHITEWURM, TRUE LOVE, CWEALM
This is the second part of a collection of new black metal recommendations that I began yesterday. There were eight bands whose music I included in Part 1, and originally there were eight more here. Yes, I know, I’ve gone overboard. But since that’s never ever happened before, I know you’ll be in a forgiving mood — especially when I tell you that I’ve siphoned off three of the second group of eight and have put them into a Part 3, coming later today or tomorrow.
The debut album of Elfsgedroch (which is apparently Dutch for “mischief of elves”) was released on tape during the spring of 2016, but was released as a digital download and on vinyl in the spring of this year. The album’s name is Op de beenderen van onze voorvaderen (“on the bones of our ancestors”, if Google Translate is to be believed).
I’ve written twice before about individual tracks from the album as they appeared, and intended to write a proper review of the entire album. But now I’m afraid I may never get around to doing that — which makes me feel guilty because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this record. Not only is the music exceptional, so is the care with which it has been packaged. Take a look:
I’m fortunate to have a copy of the vinyl packaging, and it really is fascinating.
As for the music, it was inspired by the northern regions of The Netherlands (the band makes its home in Groningen), “with its desolate meadows, haunting winds, hungry sea, ancient spirits, occult myths, dark legends and bloody historic events”.
I encourage you to give the album a serious listen, because it’s a thrill, full of fire and fury as well as longing and pain. The vocals are downright scalding, while the riffs and leads are so well-crafted that each song has the capacity to seize control of your emotions and spin your head around, too.
The music rocks and swings and dances (like a folk dance) just as often as it becomes a bonfire, and it can be wistful and heartbreaking as well, the vocals turning to expressions of a tortured and tormented soul in keeping with the grief and the remembrance of things lost that flows in the music. But regardless of its mood, the music is always vibrant, full of life in all its triumphs and defeats.
P.S. I still don’t know who is in this band, or what guests might have appeared on the album. I strongly suspect they have resumes longer than this one name.
Imperceptum is a one-man band from Germany whose past releases I’ve found unusually powerful. I express some thoughts about the first album (Collapse of Existence) here, and the second one (The Eternal Path To Nothingness) here. Now a third album has appeared — Ascension to a Higher Plain of Existence, which was released on May 30.
Imperceptum’s music is a hybrid of atmospheric black metal and funeral doom, and as I’ve written before, it really is a hybrid because the result is music that doesn’t neatly fit into either of those genres. It’s also tremendously dramatic and immersive music, in the sense that it irresistibly pulls you away from yourself. And that’s just as true of the third album as it was of the first two.
As before, the new album consists of long songs, in this case only two of them, each in the 13-14 minute range. As before, Imperceptum creates a changing experience, though none of the experiences seem to take place on the surface of the earth. There are slow, dreamlike ambient passages that cast awe-inspiring vistas of glowing nebulas into the mind, or visions of lost souls drifting in the void. There are sweeping and soaring movements of vast and alien grandeur. And there are harrowing, blood-freezing storms of shock and awe, so deep, so powerful, and so apocalyptically violent that they can put the hair up on the back of your neck. Beauty and abomination co-exist on this album in a way that’s rare.
The vocals don’t seem to come from our planet either. They change, but they’re almost always terrifying.
If you haven’t yet discovered Imperceptum, now’s the time. This is remarkable. And trust me, you won’t notice the time passing.
WHITEWURM / TRUE LOVE
The next item in this collection is a split release that appeared in late April by two one-person bands I hadn’t encountered before, Winterwurm from Atlanta, Georgia, and True Love from Reno Nevada.
Whitewurm’s track on this split is “Sentenced“, and it makes for a good follow-on companion to the music of Imperceptum. The music hits like a hurricane, the riffs whipping and tearing like the kind of ravaging wind that could peel your skin off (the vocals are skin-stripping, too), but there’s a cruel yet soaring kind of majesty to this atmospheric black metal, with heavy, ominous undercurrents and heavy sorrow as well. And the drums rocket along at breathtaking speed most of the time — when they’re not crashing in thoroughly compulsive rhythms or beating the cadence of a dirge-like march. A thoroughly gripping and emotionally wrenching song.
True Love’s track is “Levitating on the Brain Waves of the Insane“, which is apparently what True Love was doing when this song was written and recorded. Don’t be fooled by the band’s name, which is tongue-in-cheek if it’s anything. The song’s opening does sound like a recording of insane brain waves, followed by a cacophony of ghastly vocal excretions and perverted chords, followed by… a torrent of pure hellfire. It’s an electrifying display of violent derangement, and perhaps most demented of everything you’ll hear are the vocals — which are completely off the chain. But as hate-filled and blood-curdling as the music is, it’s in near-constant flux, full of warped twists and turns, and it exerts a powerful grip on the senses.
The split is available digitally at Bandcamp and on tape via Les Fleurs du Mal Productions.
Near the end of last year our Norwegian friend Gorger praised the debut album of the Swedish one-man band Cwealm (Old English for “death”) in these words:
“Swedish Astraeus is the chief architect behind Cwealm. In a superb manner he continues indefatigably in the down-snowed but never overgrown footsteps first planted by Dissection and later maintained by Mörk Gryning, Lord Belial, Sacramentum, Winterland, et al. In other words, melodic black metal. With clever insight and respect, he avoids plagiarizing and rather creates his own distinctive signature, utilizing unconventional means to recreate the bygone spirit of yore.
“The music is a fantastic display of innovative creativity and architectural frenzy. The vocals are an infamous sulphuric sermon, chanted out between clenched teeth in blind hatred, while the frenzied carousel of instrumental furore is spinning around and around like a tornado. I can hardly praise this swirling schizophrenic roller-coaster waltz enough.”
The name of Cwealm’s debut is Odes To No Hereafter, and it was released last September by Dusktone. The reason I’m revisiting Cwealm is that there is now a new music video for a song from the album named “Wither, Tainted Crown“. It splices together footage from old films portraying the terrors of Satan and his agents, and the video is made in such a way that Astraeus himself very well could have been a luciferian figure in these scenes. The video is well done, and as for the music, I second everything Gorger has written. This is the soundtrack to a hellish carnival, wrathful and delirious.
The drumming on the album, by the way, was performed by Amon Amarth’s current drummer, Jocke Wallgren.
Haha. Nice video. It really does feel like Astraeus slide in among the rest of the imagery as some sort of
Lots of good stuff thus far in this edition of SoB. By the time part three hits the fan like feces, there’s probably so many candidates you have to split it into segment 3a and 3b.
You know me all too well. 🙂
Imperceptum sounds awesome
Very glad you like it — there’s more where that came from in the first two albums. A super-strong trio of works.
That grammatical error in the title drives me right up the wall though. Higher PLANE of Existence! Arg! Germans.
What is it about Holland? Elfsgedroch really hits the spot for me, in the same was as Fluisteraars, Laster or Tarnkappe before them. And a great post all around I should say!