(We are very happy to welcome Kaptain Carbon back to NCS with this feature on a series of forthcoming 2017 releases by a label known as Vrasubatlat. Kaptain Carbon operates Tape Wyrm, a blog dedicated to current and lesser-known heavy metal. He also writes Dungeon Synth reviews over at Hollywood Metal as well as moderating Reddit’s r/metal community.)
This is not the first time I have written about Vrasubatlat, nor do I believe it will be the last. Over the course of these past years, I have become enamored with the output from this Pacific Northwest label. Aesthetic is important in heavy metal, and the bands that revolve around the universe of Vrasubatlat all seem to be circling the same themes. While each of the bands represented on the label has its own personality, the general tone of spiritual violence, existential ruin, and transcendental obliteration seem to make a solid foundation.
I have decided to wait until now to discuss the recent and future releases from Vrasubatlat. Perhaps I can only experience this type of music in segments, as too much would leave me inverted and eviscerated. Through this showcase and review, I will most certainly be using flowery and colorful descriptions. Part of this is just a writing style, but the other is to express the immersion into unsettling waters. Vrasubatlat is certainly not the end of harsh and dissonant sounds but they are certainly a label with an energetic spirit for it and a lack of caring for others.
Below are a list of releases and new demos from new projects from 2017. I feel fortunate to hear these demos before their release date like some sort of chosen prophet who sees imminent doom in the stars. What I can tell you is that this label, while already ornery and antisocial, has found new ways to describe disgust.
Adzalaan – Adzalaan
Adzalaan is new a solo project, specifically the first solo project by R. With so much secrecy or intentional lack of information surrounding these releases, one is left with an uneasy and anxious feeling of not knowing everything. Perhaps this is why these demos are so fantastic, as living in a climate where everything can be known with a little effort, relying solely on the release as a means of experience, can be liberating as well as suffocating.
Adzalaan drives its knee into that feeling of loss and despair with a slow-tempo black metal dive containing both quiet moments of reflection and blistering moments of chaos. For a solo project from a name that has very little recognition compared to others on the label, the completeness of the Adzalaan demo is dazzling and would be a perfect start, or continuation for others, into the world of dim light.
Utzalu – Loins of Repentance
Utzalu should be highlighted in this article, as this project’s first full-length is being released. Previous articles I have written have made note about Utzalu and its supposed obsession with the works of French naturalist Emile Zola. While some of the themes still veer towards the morbid and macabre, Utzalu walks the path of literary abstraction.
Musically, Loins of Repentance takes a giant step forward in terms of production from the previous demo to display a sound that is both robust and antagonistic. The guitar tone from the preview track “Bloodied Gowns on Cringed Worms” revels in attitude and utter disdain of nearly everything. The aggressive nature of the music acts as a catalyst for the record and highlights the label’s love for contemporary black metal that trades pageantry and tropes for raw emotion.
Anteinferno – Hospitality Is Our Primary Concern
From my brief discussions with the label, Anteinferno is not a core project, which could mean that it is a side project from one of the members or a work from someone else not associated with the other bands. Whatever it is, Hospitality Is Our Primary Concern is most certainly an outlier on the label, as it is the least metal-driven out of the roster.
While there still remains the overarching thesis of existential ruin, the sound of power electronics and noise takes the place of organic instruments. Power electronics, harsh noise wall, and dark ambient are genres not that distant from the realm of extreme metal and, while Anteinferno may only be a side note in the book of Vrasubatlat, the sheer magnitude of this release is remarkable. This becomes clear once one realizes the title of the record is a mocking jeer of its sound.
Mróz – Charnel Ground
Continuing with things that lie in even more obscurity, Mróz may not even be related to the core of the label but rather a form of help from what sounds like outsiders.
Charnel Ground is their first demo released on the label and it strikes an interesting balance between metal distortion, electronic noise, and primitive aggression. If ever pressed to sum up the work of this label, Charnel Ground would be a good description, as genres matter less for this group. Post-punk, death industrial, power electronics, noise, black metal — it all seems to be revolving in some horrid tornado with little care for order.
In addition to furnishing so much advanced material and information while doing this review, the label was kind enough to let me forecast future events.
Aside from a new Dagger Lust record on the horizon entitled Siege Bondage Adverse to the Godhead, as well as some vinyl reprints of old demos, a new project called Mmuo is in production for the end of the year. Mmuo is described as the lo-fi sound of Les Légions Noires mixed with power electronics, which sounds delightfully awful.
If anyone wants to go out an catch any of these acts live, Triumvir Foul will be at the Invoking Black Death Fest in Chicago early next year, and Utzalu is embarking on a small west coast tour which I am sure will be as horrifying as it sounds.
I have already written and discussed (here) the various merits of Triumvir Foul’s new record. Being the second full-length from this death-centric project, I can think of no other better achievement for this year from this label than Spiritual Bloodshed. Though I enjoy almost every project from this label, the crossover appeal of Triumvir Foul is important for the label’s longevity.
Though I do not expect to see too many of these releases on end-of-the-year lists, I take solace in the fact that Vrasubatlat will keep the rest of this year clouded with darkness, and the next year, and how much ever time the blight of Vrasubatlat remains in this world.