(A couple months ago we published (here) a “dirty black summer” playlist compiled and written by Neill Jameson (Krieg, Poison Blood), and now we’re happy that he’s followed that with a second installment of recommendations for your summer listening, presented below.)
Normally for me summer means a change of listening habits to old Swedish death metal, Danzig I-IV, and early Queens of the Stone Age, but this year’s been a little different; seasonal listening hasn’t really come into play for me in the way that it has in years past. I understand there’s a bit of a stigma attached to the idea of seasonal listening anyway but that’s the sort of shit boring people with boring existences have to come up with to shit on people with richer emotional lives. Anyway, if you’ve got a moment here’s another list of things I’m listening to.
You’ll see a batch of Death Kvlt Productions releases in nearly any list I put together these days, which I understand can be a little frustrating if you’re into owning physical releases since the label tends to sell out within minutes only to be flipped to kids who won’t actually listen to the fucking records but post pictures of them incessantly on their social media feeds, almost like a roadmap to letting people know they’re assholes without actually getting to know them, saving everyone a lot of time.
INFERNO REQUIEM “NUWA”
I brought up the bit about Death Kvlt because if most people actually listened to their records then Inferno Requiem’s Nuwa would’ve been in a lot more 2020 playlists (I know it’s originally from 2017, fuck off, I’m talking about the reissue) because this is a fucking phenomial record that too many people are sleeping on. This was my introduction to the project and it made a solid first impression. Very riff-heavy black metal with ghastly vocals, a very strong sense of melody akin to early ’90s projects with an absolute razor sharp sound. For whatever reason this is still available in the Goatprayer/Death Kvlt store, again proving my earlier point. Fucking excellent.
This is one of the most unique black metal records I’ve heard in years, perhaps ever. There’s a heavy lean on more groove-oriented riffing, which I understand is the kind of sentence that could turn a lot of people off — it soured my stomach typing it. But trust me, you’ve probably never heard something like this in black metal, there’s a kind of Sonic Youth/120 Minutes vibe to it while still retaining a jet black darkness. Creative as all hell tho “I am the Fucking Pariah” is a bit on the nose. Worth taking the time to listen to the entire record and I’m sure we’ll be talking about this one together again in a few months.
Another project out of the Harassor/Lord Foul camp, Moonknight has been around for a minute but I’d never taken the time to check them out until I saw the repress of Discernment pop up in my newsfeed and I figured I’d take a shot and listen to it, which I’m glad I did. Heavily atmospheric black metal akin to Parnassus or Serment, epic but still very moody. Tape is still available in limited quantities through Rising Beast, who also have a grip of other killer related shit.
WHITE MEDAL “ELMET”
When I talk about others sleeping on projects I guess I need to include myself because, shamefully, I’d never given White Medal a listen until a few months ago and so I’ve been spending the subsequent time catching up. With a massive discography that goes back two decades it’s difficult to pin down just one release to write about but the most recent full length Elmet seemed like as smart a jumping off point as any. Thick, bassy, punk fueled black metal with monstrous vocals, a bit like if Joy Division and VON had a fucking ugly baby together, this stuff is just brilliant. Much like my late-period interest/obsession with Ash Pool this is another project that has a ton to dive into and fortunately hasn’t been favored by the record flippers (yet) so it’s relatively easy to get a hold of physical copies.
APPARITION OF SUNLIGHT “WILT OF ROSES CRIMSON”
Somehow this project manages to be both depressing and uplifting at the same time. Formed out of the ashes of the underrated FIN and recorded without the members actually being together, this is a special demo that reminds me a bit of earlier Mortifera with some Brave Murder Day and Souvenirs.. era Alcest thrown in. Triumphantly melancholic and an excellent first showing.
GORGON “TRADITIO SATANAE”
I don’t think anyone is unfamiliar with my affinity for this band, from writing about them in my early black metal lists a few years ago to naming their return record The Veil of Darkness one of my favorite records of the decade, so it should come as no real shock that their newest would be on my radar. But this is a bit of a different beast from the 2019 punk and black metal monster.
Traditio Satanae leaves a lot of the punk element behind for more traditional black metal pastures but the songwriting is probably the strongest of the band’s impressive thirty years of activity. The two things that really stand out to me is the production is heavy and clear, a bit reminiscent of Impaled Nazarene’s second and third albums, and Chris’ vocals are fiercer and more pissed-off than any previous entry in their discography. This is going to probably be my favorite record of the year, and it’s a testament to longevity that this many years in the game you’re able to deliver your finest record.
GALLKRIST “DEMO 2021”
Gallkrist is the dungeon noise project of Vivian Krist (formerly Slaughter), who was in Gallhammer, but is miles away from what that sentence would lead you to expect. This is a mixture of dungeon synth, harsh experimental electronics, and black metal culminating in one of the weirdest fucking cassettes I own. While it’s a challenging (in a good way) listen there is an underlying melody through it that you have to peel back some of the layers of noise to really capture, but it’s worth the time and patience. Highly creative and highly original.
FOREST TEMPLE “SPECTRAL THREADS OF A COSMIC DREAM”
We could sit and talk about whose project this is but I encourage you to give it an unbiased listen first. When I spoke about being burnt out on dungeon synth the last time I wrote a list I didn’t mean projects like this. Forest Temple sound like the project’s name implies. Esoteric and dense soundscapes, somewhere between the early and the cosmic with an obvious respect to the older artists of the genre while forging their own path. If you’re familiar with the artist’s main creation then you’re already aware of the thought and time put into their work and this is no different.
VALE MINSTREL “GARDEN OF SPELLS”
I greatly enjoyed Vale Minstrel’s debut Warden of the Vale last year and Garden of Spells potentially surpasses that. Medieval dungeon synth without the pomp of the more grandiose (and boring) projects with similar tags, Garden of Spells stays captivating from start to finish. Fans of projects like Fief should drop what they’re doing to give this a listen.
QUEST MASTER/GRAVES OF EDEN “BRIMSTONE”
I was passingly familiar with Quest Master but I mostly grabbed this for the excellent Graves of Eden track. Murky and dark as night dungeon synth from the mind behind Burier (another project you should be aware of) Graves of Eden conjure visions of fire and smoldering landscapes. Quest Master’s track is darker than usual for the project and complements the theme of the EP while definitely making me curious to seek out more of their music. Everything about this split, from the sound to the aesthetics, really fucking drive home images of ash and brimstone and should be mandatory listening for anyone into dark synth music.
Closure is kind of the black sheep of the Integrity full-lengths. There really isn’t any particular era of the band that sounds like this record; with its soaring choruses and it’s slight goth undertones, it truly stands alone. And it fucking rules. Plus. this is the origin of the “Hybrid Moments” cover that Integrity play near the end of every set. If you’re a fan of the band but never checked this one out, do yourself a favor. It’s an adventurous record that just feels different. My inclusion of it on the list is because Holy Terror just released the first ever official vinyl pressing on a myriad of different colors which shines a bit of light on this underrated classic and gives it a warm place in my collection.
The summer has only started to fucking melt most of the country, which also means that we’re only at just the tip of the busiest part of the year for releases. And like being told “just the tip” generally means you’re getting it up to the hilt, so too will I tell you that I might be done with lists until the end of the year. But probably not.