SHADES OF BLACK (PART 1): VACIVUS, CHAMBRE FROIDE, THE AUSTRASIAN GOAT, MITOCHONDRION, GROK, BLOODLUST, SHAMAN RITUAL
As I started pulling together this Sunday’s round-up of new or newly discovered black and black-ish metal I once again found myself with too many recommendations to squeeze into a single post, despite the fact that I posted one of these SHADES OF BLACK features only two days ago. So, even though 7 bands are featured here, there will be a Part 2, which I probably won’t finish and publish until tomorrow because I’ll be visiting a friend’s licensed weed farm this afternoon. Horticulture FTW.
The first song in this collection was a last-minute addition, and it comes from a band who are more death metal than black metal, but I was so damned excited when I heard this track that I couldn’t wait to foam at the mouth about it. It’s also a damned vicious, pitch-black piece of audio electrification, so I don’t think I’m bending the SHADES OF BLACK format very much by including it.
The song, which first appeared on YouTube this morning, is “Oubliette” and it comes from Temple of the Abyss, the new album by UK-based Vacivus. Profound Lore will release the album on September 22.
We reviewed and premiered streams of the last two Vacivus releases — the Rite of Ascension EP in 2015 (here) and the Nuclear Chaos EP earlier this year (here).
When I first heard Rite of Ascension, I ventured the educated guess that it marked “the stunning appearance of a band whose name we expect to see praised throughout the dark places in the underground where ancient death worship is the order of the day.” Nuclear Chaos only strengthened that impression, leading to comparisons with the likes of Cruciamentum, Blood Incantation, Grave Miasma, and Dead Congregation.
“Oubliette” provides strong reason to become even more excited about this new full-length. It’s pure poison, a miasma of buzzing, pestilential riffing and furious drum fusillades mixed with slow, ominous pounding, bracing gallops, berserker extended soloing, and an array of changing vocal horrors. It’s both brooding and chaotic, and a huge jolt of adrenaline from start to finish.
VACIVUS on Facebook:
CHAMBRE FROIDE AND THE AUSTRASIAN GOAT
Last week I gave a hurried and far-too-brief recommendation of an album by a band named Chambre Froide from Bordeaux, France. Entitled Rouges Chapelles, it was released by Fallen Empire on May 24. This led a friend of the band to tell me that I ought to check out their split with another French band, The Austrasian Goat. And I did manage to find streams of this two-song release, which is indeed very good.
According to Metal-Archives, the split was first released by the bands on 7″ vinyl in mid-2009 through a consortium of 9 different labels. One of those labels (Amertune) has The Austrasian Goat track up on Bandcamp, and I found the Chambre Froide track on Soundcloud, though neither of them is available for download.
Chambre Froide’s track, “Isolement Suicidaire“, is a striking and disturbing piece, launched by a frightening atmospheric introduction and then exploding in a fireball of agonized delirium. The atmosphere of torment only deepens when the pace slows, allowing the weight of desolation and despair to descend in full force. The vocals alone are so emotionally supercharged that they put shivers down my spine.
Thanks to Metal-Archives, I also discovered that Chambre Froide released a two-song EP in 2011 named Des Alliés et des Rats, and I found a YouTube stream of that EP, which I’m also installing below. The two songs, “Chambre Froide” and “Crematorium”, are also chilling and depressive but stirring, head-nodding works, transmitted through a production that leaves the riffs corroded and abrasive and the drums clattering as if recorded live, with no gimmicks. That voice is still a terror.
I’d like to express a wish that all of these tracks be made available for download on Bandcamp. Please!
The Austrasian Goat is the solo project of Julien Louvet (The Goat), with three albums and a large number of splits and EPs on the discography since 2007. The split with Chambre Froide was one in a series of four released in 2009, and it includes a track by The Austrasian Goat named “In the Arms of the Wind“.
That track was my first exposure to The Austrasian Goat, but now I’m fully convinced to explore further. Combining an otherworldly atmosphere of gloom with a sense of mounting tension, the song glides with an unsettling grace, like waves of staggering bleakness slowly washing up against the shores of ruin and regret. The Goat’s brain-mangling shrieks lend further intensity to this emotionally intense track, which becomes mesmerizing as the repetition of its core melody sinks deeper and deeper into the skin.
I own an embarrassingly large number of Mitochondrion shirts, CDs, vinyls, and other band paraphernalia, a number that greatly exceeds the actual number of Mitochondrion releases. Roughly 12 years have passed since their first demo, but since then we have been given only two albums, two splits, and two EPs. I have no problem with this somewhat restricted output, because quality trumps quantity.
The last of those EPs, Antinumerology, appeared on vinyl in 2013 via Dark Descent Records. But now I have an opportunity to add to my collection of Mitochondrion objects, because Krucyator Productions (France) will be releasing a 4-panel digipack CD edition of Antinumerology on July 26th (which comes with the amazing original cover art by Richard Friend); it’s also available as a digital download.
When a stream of the EP’s first track, “Insummation“, appeared in 2013, I wrote: “It’s utterly bone-cracking and brain-pulping, with vicious riffs churning amidst a miasma of doomed atmosphere and horrific vocals proclaiming something unspeakable. The melody rings like giant bells at the end of time, and I can hear them ringing still.”
The other two tracks, “137 (Mors Formulae)” and “Antinumerology“, were combined into a single stream on the Dark Descent release but appear as separate tracks on the Krucyator CD. The former circles like carrion crows above a pile of corpses and then erupts in a blinding flash of inhuman violence, while the latter is a calamitous, doom-drenched affair whose intensity builds, scaling toward a summit of insanity.
All the tracks on Antinumerology display the dense textures, the vibrant dynamism, the instrumental intricacy, and the harrowing, alien atmospherics that have made this band’s releases so consistently riveting.
I thoroughly enjoyed the debut album of this one-man Colorado band when I discovered it in January, spilling these too-brief words of praise about A Spineless Descent:
“[Tthe combined effect of those ingredients is music that’s mesmerizing as well as chilling. Some of the chill comes from the high, distant horrors of the caustic vocals, but the principal sources of the shivers are the repeating waves of ghostly keyboard ambience and the wraithlike emanations of the guitar. That these effects are paired with such a potent drum performance makes the music even more interesting… it pounds the pulse as well as hypnotizes the mind. Listening to the album really is like visiting another world.”
On August 31, EEE Recordings and Quest For Fire will be releasing a new Grok album named Sacred Fire Without Form (CD and cassette, respectively). The song below is the first advance track, “Grandest Conjurations (To Enchant Firearms)“. Lurching at first in a kind of swinging, head-nodding rhythm with a somber melody, the song becomes more and more animated and yet more mystical, as Grok not only puts on a fireworks display of drumming and bass-pulsing but also laces the music with spectral, spellcasting keyboard notes.
It’s time to thrash your reproductive organs off, with assistance from Bloodlust. They are based in Perth, Western Australia, and their second album At the Devil’s Left Hand will be released (CD and tape) by the Portuguese label Caverna Abismal Records on August 24.
What you’ll find below is the title track, a virally infectious, turbocharged combination of golden thrash riffs, poisonous tremolo runs, eye-popping drumwork and guitar soloing, and bullet-spitting vocals that are themselves worth every second of the song. It’s quite a dynamic thrill-ride, too, one that packs lots of twists and turns into its four-minute run. Can’t wait to hear more of this album!
To conclude Part 1 of this SHADES OF BLACK I’m turning to a band from Jyväskylä, Finland, named Shaman Ritual. Their debut album Sinister Totem was first independently released by the band in digital form on June 2, 2017, but it will now be released on tape by Caligari Records. Pending that release, the digital version has been pulled from the web, but will eventually appear again. Until then, you can enjoy a track from the album named “Shroud of Infinity“.
This is a heavy, grim, mid-paced slugger at first, segmented by flurries of skull-battering drum assaults. The drumming is a high point throughout, and the riffs are, too — they get their hooks in right away and don’t let go — while the vocals are convincingly savage. As icing on this cake, the melodic leads add an aura of melancholy and eeriness to this perilous trip, and the finale is downright explosive. Really impressive….
2. Shroud of Infinity
3. Hunt for the Mist
4. Inhaling the Trinary Visions
6. Above None
Tasty treats as always. Really digging Bloodlust,Shaman Ritual,The Austrasian Goat and Vacivus.