(Today Axel Stormbreaker focuses attention on an octet of releases by the Virginia-based label Death Eternal.)
Death is final. Death is eternal. Even if there exists some sort of afterlife in what lies beyond, it’s probable we won’t be carrying any of our present memories along. Blame me if today’s mood seems a bit philosophical, but current events can make a guy ponder. You’re wondering what’s the point of it all, or why it’s an aspect all of Earth’s religions won’t dispute. Or even how would our essence grow in the first place, if memories are not supposed to matter.
That being said, Death Eternal Records from Richmond, Virginia is a name rather suitable for an underground DIY endeavor. Especially one that deals with ominous music, even when their criteria do grand salvation on a personal degree. What you may find here, none can quite guarantee. What you shall miss, no one could really answer. All you’ll be getting is nothing besides the dusty offerings of a small-scale label, dedicated to promoting local talent among other relative bands.
Shoushitsu – Black Ash
Metal Archives states Shoushitsu plays black metal, but I swear it’s more death metal to me. Apart from its closing opus titled “Black Throne”, Black Ash sounds somewhat close to a bastardized mixture of early Obituary with Sadistic Intent, possibly from the demos/Resurrection era. Meaning that rotten thrash, condemning doom, as well as the grimmest moments of early Celtic Frost seem vividly present here. All, while its wide yet crunchy production draws additional influence from the modern crust punk scene.
Now, I would suspect Black Breath has been a point of reference regarding mixing values, but the band clearly states “may the workers of the world unite, their castles will be laid to waste”. Which means their stance is a political one, thus rooted in punk. Personally, I tend to support the punks who know their metal, especially when the result is so doubtlessly good. Seeing as Black Ash received its digital release on the 31st of January, a tape version should pop up any day now.
Parricide Sentence – Demo 2022
I do get how a band’s peculiar name such as Parricide Sentence may remind of homeless drunkards in gray rags. The kind who stumble upon empty bottles, while jamming fiercely in power electronics style. When, in reality, Demo 2022 only sounds as if Justin K. Broadrick recorded a post-punk record at 6:00 AM, right after spending a hopeless night in the suburbs getting high as fuck.
Of course, I got no issue with smelly bands, as their music is usually great. But that’s not the case here either way, as Parricide Sentence only reek of obscurity in a sense nearly eclectic. This demo is just gritty and it’s dark, it’s thoroughly mechanized, yet it results as sufficiently organic. They appear to draw as much influence from the old industrial scene, as much from post-punk backgrounds, or even from EBM synthetics. And it’s catchy as hell, I’m telling you, even when its beats are pounding shadily beneath time and dust.
Lichen – Spore/Neolithic Sorcery
Death Eternal only released the band’s recent promo titled Spore on tape, yet it’s the upcoming full-length that should be grabbing your attention (it’s out on tape via Bleak Black Kvlt). Not just because it’s, in fact, compiled from their past two EPs (hence, both of its songs are included), but also because Neolithic Sorcery stands among my favorable contenders for this year’s top-10 Dark Horse list. For any of you who missed the opportunity to take notice of my bizarre taste, please check here for untold riches regarding last year’s selections.
Now, in regards to Neolithic Sorcery, the guitar work may draw much influence from the old Norwegian and Swedish scene (among others), but it’s their architectural flawlessness that craps on social-media-black-metal rockstars. All while the sound is harsh as a four-ton tractor. Unless my memory deceives me, the very last time I enjoyed an epic-sounding raw black metal record so much was when Ljå released Til Avsky for Livet. Which actually means something, so please let your label buddies know, ‘cos I desperately need it on anything other than the classic cassette format.
Les Misérables – Demo 1992
Les Misérables’ debut tape titled as Demo 1992 marks the band’s sole output to this day. And, while zero insight is given in regards to their origin, we’re supposed to accept it’s been buried in some barn for the past 30 years. Firstly, lemme state it smells nothing like a cat’s piss, despite how they showcase obvious LLN influences. Secondly, the way its running length is structured sounds to me as either crafted by younger people, or reworked from past ideas.
Then again, little does any of the above matter, especially since it kicks some major corpse-painted ass. Because in what Les Misérables succeed is offering grayish aesthetics, captivating riffs, as well as sparkling, enchanted keys through an overall sublime experience. This demo, it’s good, it’s balanced, it’s a piece of crude plastic and magnetic tape you don’t mind rewinding. In contrast to a vague mass of relative bands out there, as most new demo-esque metal bores the hell out of me.
Vampyric Solitude – Demo I
Hell is empty and all the vampires are here. While I don’t support trends, I won’t complain when a band’s name comes in true accordance to the music. Vampyric Solitude plays typical raw black metal with a punk-ish edge, yet without discarding an underlying melancholy, hidden in its structures. Despite its abrasive aesthetics, its guitars are storming through as if they’re weeping tears of fallen rain, all while drenching the soil surrounding their archaic ruins. I could go on with the description, but I’m convinced you get the point. It’s short, it’s concise, it’s too damn good. Just go ahead and grab it.
Nocturnacul – The Veins
Another raw black metal project, this time from Indonesia. Its hoarse vocals, junkyard-based guitars and flat drums do stand as classic characteristics of most current harsh BM. Yet, they do make a substantial effort on their notable leads, since beneath the wall of noise most guitar parts end up eloquently tuneful. Point is, you’ll find nothing here you haven’t heard before, as it’s the same old, same old. But then again, innovation has never been a goal for raw black metal, has it?
Spectral Grief Phenomenon – MMXVIII
This is so lo-fi, it’s almost drone-y. Pretty much sounds like Reverorum ib Malacht, only in depressive black metal style. What you get are two stretchy tracks, howling vocals, madmen wandering aimlessly in the forest, meaning all the good ol’ usual stuff. Plus, it’s a tape that only costs 6 dollars, too cool to handle and DIY as a kid’s crayon drawing. Better grab this instead of paying the usual fortune for the badly dubbed ’90s bootleg cassette you want to post at social media. Both are Maxwells, this one’s just cheaper.
Vaelastrasz – Live From Blackrock Mountain – MMXXI
I think I’ll close this with the label’s most unorthodox release to date. I know, you’re wild-guessing now “this is an Atari 8-bit compilation of, well, either stalagmite-water-drops, or tuna-fish-air-bubbles”. Which pretty much describes the majority of home-produced ambient, since there are too many artists out there, producing too much music that seriously ain’t any good.
Still, Vaelastrasz outpours simplistic, extrovert vibes that well succeed in retaining a balance rather scarce. Despite how an expansion of its contrasting layers would invest in depth, its vitality amplifies the recording’s organic nature, to the point of elevating its charm in a fashion nearly cinematic. Simply put, Live From Blackrock Mountain is all about dreamy, subtle, optimistic soundscapes addressed to fans of The Lord of the Rings, or to event RPG fantasy gamers. Which may explain why the noisy aspects of “Hope’s End” fail, since the arousing tensions create too much awkwardness.