(Our ally Gorger from Norway returns to NCS with an even half-dozen underground gems from 2017 that we haven’t previously reviewed. To find more of his recommendations, type “Gorger” in our search bar or visit Gorger’s Metal.)
In an attempt at getting up to speed, I’m presenting no fewer than six releases. Short ones the lot of them. Mostly EPs, but also a split and a single. Last time around, I made the error of including a formerly presented release. To make sure I don’t do the same mistake again, I start off by doing the same mistake deliberately this time.
MEPHORASH – SFAÍRA TI̱S FO̱TIÁS (EP)
Mephorash have been presented here on numerous occasions. In fact, this release basically has too. Sfaíra ti̱s fo̱tiás was initially released in 2015. Thus, this is somewhat redundant. But as it’s been re-released with a bonus track, I figure it’s worth throwing it in, nonetheless.
The song Sfaíra ti̱s fo̱tiás opens with an excerpt from Mozart‘s Lacrimosa, a piece taken from his symphonic mass for the deceased, simply called Requiem (1791), before a rumbling earthquake takes place. The song opens heavily with rhythms that roll violently like thunder clouds. After a short span of time where the music trembles and drones steadily as a passenger train, the speed decreases to a slow flow of thick magma. As on the album, some feminine choir is used to enhance the occult mood before the locomotive again accelerates and builds up momentum. Through nine minutes, the pace, rhythm, and riffs glide through frequent changes, without yielding an inch in hypnotic surge and mood.
The Hendecasyllabics Of Death, with initial (and concluding) piano, brings some My Dying Bride vibes, but of course it doesn’t take long before powerful doomy furore again fills the room. The song is more atmospheric than the first one, with gloomy melancholy lashing like ice cold rain against an already frozen soul. Gorgeous.
To conclude this session, we get a cover of the Ofermod song Khabs Am Pekht, originally featured on Tiamtü (2008), as well as on occasional re-releases of the EP Mystérion Tés Anomias. With its driving rhythms and passages of evil ceremonial moods, it glides nicely along with the rest of the material.
Those who were mesmerized by 1557: Rites of Nullification, but still haven’t heard this EP, are advised to set sail in gnostic-ritual waters. Bon voyage.
SHEIDIM – INFAMATA (EP)
Sheidim was given well-deserved attention when releasing their first full-length, Shrines of the Void (2016). Three months ago, the Barcelona quartet were back in the saddle with a five-song EP.
Let’s start off by addressing an issue that I find rather evident: There’s quite a few similarities between these Spaniards, Catalans, Separatists, or whatever, and Watain. If someone has any trouble with that, they’ll have to look for new music elsewhere. Personally, I don’t care. There’s similar-sounding bands all around, but as long as thy write solid material that stands firmly on its own feet, I’m fine with that. Not that I mind idiocrasy, of course. Anyway, Where Shrines… was located more between Casus Luciferi and Sworn to the Dark, Infamata can to a greater extent be placed between Sworn… and Lawless Darkness.
I’ll skip most of my details concerning members and guests with connections to Graveyard, Ofermod, Cruciamentum, et al. And I’ll just briefly mention the slightly more rounded, but less dynamic sound, compared to the debut. I’ll settle with describing it as comfortably resounding in a dreamy and narcotic manner.
The recipe basically follows the same concept as last time around, with hypnotic effect through adequate variation via clever instrumentation that attaches its hooks and drags you to (and through) the netherworld. The feeling of leaving the body and traveling in the astral plane is perhaps even stronger than on Shrines Of The Void.
Infamata lasts for 27.5 minutes and reaches its crescendo with the nine-minute-long Sister Of Sleep. There are a few sequences, like the ten seconds at 4:09, that reminds me specifically of Watain. Not that we’re talking plagiarism. Yet, all-in-all, I’d say that the remains leave a whole lot of black metal that testifes to respectable compositional creativity. In these warped ears, Sheidim delivers damned solid profane black metal, and they’re a must for fans of both the Spaniards and the Swedes.
Infamata was released by I, Voidhanger Records on September 15th.
VOODUS – SERPENT, SEDUCER, SAVIOUR (EP)
Swedish Voodus is another band that kind of emulates the famous Watain sound. Not that I’m holding it against them. They’ve been presented on No Clean Singing once before. By me. Yes, I take all the credit. Bring on the accolades. Chocolate will do too. The EP with the gothic-sounding name NightQueen was re-released last year.
With Serpent, Seducer, Saviour, the band have apparently practiced hard and spent the two years refining both melody lines, structures, technique, and sound down to the smallest detail. At least, that’s how it feels, for the band appear more consistent, focused, and tight, as if they’d shed their skin. The quartet with the still stable crew offers two solid songs. One longer than the other. Both weighing in at 20 minutes altogether.
Path of Hekate is gloomy and foreboding from its outset, and continues being so even when the drums invite to nodding heads and headbanging. The threatening atmosphere doesn’t let go even when cutting and rasping vocals cut through. The song’s mighty yet alarming expression provides associations to the halls of Hell, where Satan himself welcomes you to eternal torment. Where Path of Hekate “only” lasts for seven minutes, Flesh into Spirit plows on persistently for thirteen. This is as good as the previous one, not to mention its hypnotic effect.
This might not be the full-length I was expecting, but with killer material and powerful euphonious sound from Necromorbus Studios, it nevertheless sounds just as perfect as I could have hoped for! The EP is out on vinyl, and will eventually be made available on CD with the NightQueen EP as a bonus. Everything also indicates that the next release will be the first (and in my eyes long-awaited) full-length since Voodus changed its name from Jormundgand in 2015.
Serpent, Seducer, Saviour was released by Shadow Records on September 18th.
THE WAKEDEAD GATHERING / ECFERUS – S/T (Split)
This self-titled split consists of two American one-man extreme metal bands. The Wakedead Gathering is a death metal band with elements of black, performed by Andrew Lampe from Cincinnati/Columbus, Ohio. The band has been serving shady gods for ten years, and has three full-lengths under the bullet belt. The band was last presented on NCS in in conjunction with the premiere of the song Lungwort off the album Fuscus: Strings of the Black Lyre (2016).
The Wakedead Gathering kicks off with the song The Blind Abyss, which lasts for 11 minutes and then some. This “tribute” to Azathoth is strongly inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, and the music is described by the press-release as cosmic horror. It’s a descriptively accurate characterization, for the music moves in an irregular, spasmodic fashion through bizarre nightmares, where the foundation is death metal, while thick, black, and dripping tar forms an essential component. The Blind Abyss moves seamlessly through various passages where several different associations occur. The Wakedead Gathering stands firmly on its own feet, though, delivering one nifty track, though the sound could have been a bit less jarring.
Ecferus, a band operating in a blacker scenery, comes from Fort Wayne, Indiana and consists of Mr. Alp. The band hasn’t been active for as many years, but has managed to release a sizable amount of small releases since 2015. Last year saw a full-length followed by two EPs and a split. Once again, NCS was there to premiere a track from the album, namely the delightful Creation of a Planet off Pangaea (2016).
Ecferus arrives with this year’s second split release, offering three tracks for a total of 14 minutes. The first song, Unto Chaos Unraveling, quickly reveals that this American belongs in the charred ruins of the metallic terrain. The black metal we meet is, much like the previous song, of the grisly kind. Ecferus offers a bit better sound as companion to its odious, rasping tones, and Alp delivers killer drive and clever melodies with an eerie whiff of hostility.
The Wakedead Gathering / Ecferus was released by I, Voidhanger Records on November 3rd.
MINNERIKET – AN ALL TOO HUMAN HEART
The Norwegian black metal band Minneriket has been rather active since its startup just 3-4 years ago. The band has released an album a year from 2015, and the next album, Anima Sola, is scheduled for release in January. It’s the coming release Minneriket wants to create a little fuss around with the single An All Too Human Heart, released digitally through the band’s own label. This is another one-man band, consisting of Stein Akslen from Vakslen and Blodsgard.
Akslen obviously has a taste for Burzum, something that is clearly revealed on the man’s latest album, From the Veins of a Nearly Dead Boy, released last January. An album with with cover songs only, as a tribute to Grishnackh. The song An All Too Human Heart also suggests such an inspiration, albeit not quite as obviously.
An evil stench of grievance, disgust, and cynical contempt rests over barbed wire and broken glass in this 3:33-long primitive and painful composition. The start can indicate more melody and atmosphere ahead, but those who might hope for the expression to move in that direction can quickly call off the celebration. All signs of a quiet evening are canceled after just tens of seconds when the song makes a turn for a cruel, harsh, dire, agonizing, and cold appearance.
Finally, let me just say that I’m looking forward to Anima Sola, and that you can download An All Too Human Heart and check out the rest of the discography on Bandcamp.
An All Too Human Heart was released by Akslen Black Art Records on October 30th.
:NODFYR: – IN EEN ANDERE TIJD
:Nodfyr: from the Netherlands have set out to create pagan metal inspired by local folklore and mythology, as well as the nature of their native province of Gelderland. They’ve taken their name from an old word describing a pagan method of fire crafting (need-fire). This practice was also mentioned in the manuscript “Indiculus superstitionum et paganiarum” from the 8th century. Another piece of Catholic inquisitional propaganda, which, much like Malleus Maleficarum – Hammer of Witches, was intended to identify and eliminate pagan traditions.
The band was launched in 2011, but is only now ready with their first release, due to member replacements and commitments to other constellations. The trio consists of original member Joris van Gelre (Wederganger, ex-Heidevolk) on vocals, as well as the lads Mark Kwint and Jasper Strik, who together also constitute the band Alvenrad. Mark plays guitar and bass, while Jasper plays keyboard. Both also contribute on backing vocals.
In een andere Tijd, an EP whose title translates to In another time, begins with the song by the same name. Soft but rich sound with a rather distinctive bass meets the listener when hovering melodies waver out of the speakers. Clean, but deep male vocals are used to convey a folk-metallic mood, and the fiddle that’s brought along sets the mood whence the fire is finally lit. The guitars have a touch of heavy metal, while the drums drag the music in a mid-tempo, extreme metal direction.
The title on song two requires a short explanation. Ode aan de Ijssel is an ode to Ijssel, a river that flows through Gelderland whilst also marking the border of the province to the north. Ijssel is, by the way, a branch of the more well-known Rhine. After introductory lapping of waves along with piano, heavier riffs and dark vocals follow with a somewhat melancholic feel. This song also swings gently in a mid-paced tempo whilst offering infectious melodies.
:Nodfyr: have the right flair for good melodies, and create a nifty mood in the glowing light from the flames under the rich crown of the broad-leafed woodland. If you have a liking for that kind of metal, I recommend you set aside just under a quarter of an hour to listen and enjoy.
In een andere Tijd was released by Ván Records on November 10th.