(Andy Synn presents a triptych of terrifying – and terrific – recent releases)
I don’t know about you lot, but I’ve always found dark music to be a great comfort during dark times.
And, since I am going through a bit of a dark patch myself right now I thought it’d be a good time to share some of the music which is helping me through it.
Who knows, you might just discover your new favourite band/album!
CAVERNOUS GATE – VOICES FROM A FATHOMLESS REALM
The debut album from Black/Doom solo artist Sebastian Körkemeier (aka Cavernous Gate) strikes a balance between the gothic gloom of Paradise Lost and the grim grooves of Shining, and is equally capable of bathing you in sinister somnolence as it is bruising you with bombastic riffage.
And while at first it might seem like Körkemeier is attempting to do too much all at once (the album’s first proper track, “Old Graves Stir” is, on paper at least, a veritable smorgasbord of sounds and styles, mixing slow, doomy riffs, chilling keys, tolling bells, despondent clean vocals, cancerous snarls, crystalline melodies, and filthy distortion) it doesn’t take too long to really start to appreciate just how carefully and cleverly these songs are constructed, in a way which maximises their impact while minimising the sense that the music is trying to cover too many different bases at once.
It’s pleasing to note, as well, that there are no “weak” tracks here – “Through the Morass” successfully marries subdued symphonic grandeur, deathly darkness, and some flashy fretboard flourishes, “Conjuration” is built around a succession of bleakly beautiful lead lines and some captivating clean/harsh vocal interplay, and “The Turning Veil” leans even further into the doomy side of things with its slow, but steady increase in both heaviness and atmosphere.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still stand-outs (with both the moody and multifaceted “A World In Shade” and the titanic “The Artefect” coming across like an even darker and more doom-laden version of Dark Fortress) which suggest that this is one project which has the potential to be even bigger, and even better, in the years to come.
So my advice is to jump onboard now. You won’t regret it.
DAEMOGOG – YAWNING EXPANSE YEARNING
Let me tell you something, although this may be my first encounter with Daemogog (I somehow overlooked their 2017 full-length Ancient Extradigestional Rites) it certainly won’t be my last.
And while I’m often sceptical of “one man band” type projects, when that man is essentially a one man army of massive riffs, murderous percussion, and monstrous vocals, I’m more than willing to put my scepticism aside.
The man in question is Brendan Campbell, bassist/vocalist of Prog-Sludge duo Kerala and ex-bassist of up-and-coming Brutal Tech titans Atræ Bilis, who here handles everything but the kitchen sink over the course of eight of the most eye-poppingly intense tracks you’re likely to hear this ear.
With their unholy union of dissonant density and disgusting brutality, tracks like “Globular Forms…” and “The Infinite Blackness…” quickly positiong Daemogog on the same sort of level – both in terms of quality and abrasive artistry – as bands like Afterbirth and Disentomb (the latter especially, due to the way the guitars and bass lurch and coil around one another in an ever-tightening gyre as the songs ebb and flow in intensity).
There are even moments (such as during the electrifying strains of “A Glistening Aperture…”) when the music opens up to draw breath, allowing the subtle, pseudo-melodic undercurrents drift to the surface, where Yawning Expanse Yearning flirts with the sort of “Post-” Death Metal dynamic that made Wake‘s career (re)defining Devouring Ruin such an ambitious (and gloriously ambiguous) piece of work.
Whatever you want to call this album though – and I’ve seen it tagged as “Dissonant”, “Progressive”, “Post-” Death Metal, and many more besides – there’s just something about it, the way that it comes at you from so many different angles all at once, like some onrushing, many-headed and multi-limbed monstrosity, that makes it practically impossible to resist.
GEVURAH – GEHINNOM
What you’re about to hear (if you haven’t already skipped down to the player below) is probably going to be your new favourite Black Metal album. It’s certainly mine.
With a near-perfect balance of raw venom and punishing precision, tracks like “Blood-Soaked Katabasis” and the viciously catchy “Towards the Shifting Sands” showcase some of the sharpest riffs and delirium-inducing drum-work this side of the most recent Funeral Mist and Panzerfaust albums, all topped off with a truly voracious vocal performance that practically bleeds pitch-black passion.
But while there’s no question that the devilish duo have power and fury to spare (“Memento, Homo…”, for example, possesses the same sort of lean, mean, muscularity which characterises the very best of Svartidauði) their gift for cultivating mood and atmosphere (without falling into the realms of so-called “Atmospheric Black Metal”) is also unquestionable, whether that’s in the form of the sombre, scene-setting acoustics of the instrumental opener, or the sinister, doom-laden dynamics which dominate the morbid mid-section of “At the Orient of Eden”.
It all culminates in the gargantuan, grandiose finale that is “Gloria In Exelsis Deo, Et Ira Ad Homines In Terra”, where Gevurah make it clear that while they may share certain elements and influences with some of their more (in)famous peers… they’re very much their own band, and more than capable of twisting and contorting even the most orthodox interpretation of Black Metal to serve their own purpose.
Andy, you don’t know me and I don’t really know you. I just enjoy reading your reviews and especially your whole week of lists at the end of each year. I also don’t know what dark patch you’re going through, but I just wanted to say, hang in there buddy, it will get better eventually. I’ve been there and I know sometimes a comment from a complete stranger on the internet can be enough to keep someone going. Also I thought you might find some solace in the new Birds In Row album. Hope you’ll be better soon!