If you happened to lose your way, you can find Part 1 of today’s black metal collection here. And now you can get lost in the music I’ve chosen for Part 2. Lots of twists and turns lie ahead.
ARKHTINN / STARLESS DOMAIN
I mentioned in Part 1 that on November 18th ПРАВА Коллектив (Prava Kollektiv) released no fewer than five full-lengths, and that I spent time this weekend with two of them, while remaining eager to check out the other three as soon as time permits. I picked one of those two to lead off Part 1, and the second one is this: an album-length split named Astrophobia that includes the music of Arkhtinn and Starless Domain and features cover art by Markov Soroka. The split consists of two epic-length tracks, one by each band.
Arkhtinn’s song, “Astrofobi“, left me completely fascinated, and my rapidly withering muscles got a good pump too. The latter effect derives from the song’s hard-pumping rhythms. The fascination comes in part from the combining of those riveting, thumping drives with a spectrum of eerie, threatening ambient waves, maniacally flickering keyboards, and echoing ghoul voices. But that’s just the beginning.
As the song unfolds, it continually changes. Shining and searing panoramic sounds cascade above hyper-blasting drums, fevered fretwork, and blood-freezing roars. The sound is glorious, but terrorizing; it feels like we have a ring-side seat to a supernova, with all the adrenaline rush that would come from such a jaw-dropping and fear-fueling experience. But the song also pitches us into a haunting astral drift, in which we become exposed to the monstrous assembly of vocal horrors that dwell in that void, and also gives us a welcome reprise of those compulsively body-moving beats and fantastical keyboards (but no relief from the nightmare voices).
How to end this? With a finale that’s both spellbinding and horrific.
“MUSE” is the name of Starless Domain‘s track on the split. The title refers to The Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer, which the band explain “is a second generation instrument in development for the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO)”. “It is,” they say, “a panoramic integral-field spectrograph operating in the visible wavelength range”.
As you listen, your mind will see things, but it seems unlikely that all the mental images will be of phenomena in the visible spectrum. The crazed shrieking that radiates from within the enveloping sounds seem to have inhuman origins. The rich array of flickering and shimmering tonalities that saturate much of the song (coupled with percussive blasting and hammering) channel a transfixing splendor whose otherworldly quality seems mystical, as well as connected to visions of rocketing passages through the void-lanes among nebulae.
The vigorous propulsion of the song, which includes fleet-fingered bass as well as the maniacally driving drum pistons, is of a piece with the glistening blaze of everything around it — it’s all breathtaking. There are moments when the rhythm section vanishes, and then you can hear more clearly what sounds like deep, wordless choral voices lending their reverence to the glories of those glittering chords, and other moments nearer the end when the music becomes less splendorous and more ravaging, more ominous, more despairing — but no less sweeping or vast.
How to end this? With a finale that’s alien and chilling.
Thanks to Rennie (starkweather) and Miloš for pointing me to this release. These two long tracks complement each other extremely well, and together they make this album an explosive stand-out from the pack. If you’re looking for the exhilaration that comes from experiencing wonder and fear, look no further.
I first encountered this band from Trondheim, Norway, two years ago near Terratur Possession‘s release of their self-titled debut album, which I praised in print. The following spring I came across another Misotheist song named “Benefactor of Wounds“, which seemed to be a teaser for the band’s then-untitled second album, also to be released by Terratur Possesions. I wasted no time in writing about it here:
“’Benefactor of Wounds’… is a bludgeoning, sonic voyage through a post-apocalyptic soundscape of air raid siren guitars, cluster-bombing percussion, and vocals of barbed wire. The song is substantially shorter and far more intense than the tracks on the debut album, with more dominant lead guitars and a generally improved sound. If the rest of the album is equally good, it will certainly be one of the highlights of 2019″.
As things turned out, the album never appeared in 2019, though just a few days ago that song did reappear, along with the news that the album has a name — For the Glory of Your Redeemer –and that it will be released by Terratur in February, in LP, CD, and cassette tape formats. The original version of the song disappeared, and so I can’t investigate whether this new stream reflects any changes. I do know it’s still a captivating sign that this album is likely to be a highlight of whatever year greets its release.
(Thanks go to eiterorm for making me aware of the track stream and the news.)
I promised you twists and turns in this collection, and this next song provides many of them all by itself.
The band here is from China, with a line-up consisting of D. (Dopamine), Lu (Heartless/Vergissmeinnicht), and Li (Dark Fount). The single below, “Cradle Song in Minor“, was released on November 24th by Pest Productions, and along with it the band included this excerpt from “Cradle Song” by William Blake:
Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
Dreaming in the joys of night;
Sleep, sleep; in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.
The song’s acoustic opening is just beautiful, though haunting, and made more haunting by the deep, gasping vocals. It creates a beguiling spell, which strengthens as the music itself swells in its weight and in its head-moving power. Just past the halfway point, when the piercing tones of a tremolo’d guitar joins in, the music’s emotional intensity magnifies dramatically. It’s still spellbinding, but as the riffing rises and burns, the feeling of sorrow becomes one of searing anguish.
Continuing with the twists and turns, I’ve next chosen an EP named Cabin in Space by the Greek project Sarvok.
It seemed fitting to include this music in a post that also includes those Arkhtinn and Starless Domain tracks, which have their own connections to ideas about deep space. But Sarvok‘s visions are different from those. The music here is more meditative, but far from dull. The changing panoply of ambient tones (some unearthly and some symphonic) and the judicious use of beats, prevents that. And there are also spine-tingling sinister sensations in the music too.
Speaking of changes, the second track pairs acoustic guitar and flute-like tones to sublime effect, but tormented, wailing vocals and deep droning vibrations, and even the percussive accents (which include earth-shaking booms) make this an even darker and scarier song than you might suspect at first. The glistening tones of acoustic guitar also play a prominent and seductive role in the final track, but hungering beasts and red-eyed birds of prey seem to be lurking on the outskirts, and the whistling ambient tones seem to remind us that we’re indeed passing our time in a cabin in space, musing away in a realm that’s hostile to our presence.
Cabin in Space is available as a digital release through Bandcamp, and FYC Records is also selling 50 hand-numbered tapes of the EP with stickers and an embroidered patch. Info about how to get the tape (if any are left) can be found on the FYC Facebook page, here.
This final selection was a last-minute addition — something like a very attractive bonus. It concerns the debut album by the British black metal band Ante-Inferno.
We’ve already devoted a lot of attention to that album (Fane is its name). I premiered a stunning video for a stunning song named “Oath” last spring, and Andy Synn later gave it a laudatory review, summing it up as “visceral, infectious, and utterly unpretentious”.
Thanks to a Bandcamp alert I learned that just today the ever-alert Vendetta Records has just re-released Fane on CD and vinyl, as well as digitally. And apart from spreading that welcome news, I want to give you a chance to discover Fane if you haven’t done so already. Enjoy….