Mar 262023

Here are the rest of the selections I made for this week’s column devoted to black and blackened metal. And because daylight is burning (or it would be if it weren’t hidden behind grey Pacific Northwest clouds, I’ll just get right to the music.

HYL (Italy/Poland)

To lead off I’ve chosen the video for “Endless Illusions“, the latest single from Hyl‘s debut EP, Where Emptiness Is All. I was drawn to it after reading that the band is a collaboration among vocalist Shadow (from Black Altar and Ofermod), guitarist/bassist Rick Costantino (from Schizo and Krigere Wolf), and drummer Krzysztof Klingbein (ex-Vader, Belphegor live). I was also intrigued by the label’s description of the music as “atmospheric black metal, which should appeal to fans of Ruins of Beverast, Vemod or Mgła“.

Announced by the screeching of a crow, the hooting of an owl, and a dim, mysterious electronic murmur, “Endless Illusions” begins to feel its life through the sprightly ring of a guitar — but with a crack of thunder it begins to sear the senses. Shrill guitars come in raw waves; a gritty, bestial voice vents its torment, and bursts of double-bass kick up the intensity. The high-toned riffing intensifies too, but seems to channel despair.

The music’s atmosphere of chilling gloominess and wretched agony saturate the mind as it goes, even with eruptions of percussive blasting and acrobatic fills. It creates a disturbing trance-state, and I think it would not have lost its hold if it had gone on for minutes more (as I wished it would have).

I’ve also included the stream of a previous single, “Into the Unknown“. Initially momentous and stalking in its cadence, it also fills the mind with vibrantly trilling riffage, but this time there’s a feeling of haunting glory in the layered guitar melodies. The vocals are still ugly, and the drums shift gears relentlessly to keep pulses pounding, but it’s those dense waves of distraught and beseeching guitars that magnetize the listener with their emotional intensity.

There are sounds of thunder in this song too, and the music itself seems to move like the rush of dark, storm-driven clouds, until they fade away, replaced by the spooky whistle of cold wind and the throaty growls and wails of spirits.

Where Emptiness is All will be released by Odium Records on May 15th.




Obviously, I couldn’t resist including a band whose name stretches to 29 mouth-mangling letters (and apparently means “fondness of the number 666”). But of course I didn’t pick it just to make you risk choking on your tongue while attempting a pronunciation. It’s here because I found the song so dazzling.

The Burning of a Temple” is packed with twists and turns. Grandiose at first, it’s augmented by frantically darting and whirling guitars, booming chords and drums, and near-reverent singing. But the drums tumble and skip, the music comes in dense, menacing waves, and the voice turns to lunatic fowls and screams. Roiling guitar maelstroms ensue, along with wordless wails pulse-punching back-beats, throat-ruining shrieks, and rumbling drum thunder.

But oh, there’s more! The song eventually drifts away into dreamland, as seductive guitar notes slowly reverberate over misty synths. It’s a sublime and unexpected finale, with a kind of Old West, high-desert mood.

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphilia, by the way, is the solo effort of Tiúval, whose past work has included participation in such bands as Israthoum, Half Visible Presence, Merihem, and Blutvial. The song is from a two-song debut release named Demo DCLXVI, which will be out on tape via Caligari Records on May 4th.




Sooner than I’d like, I have to wrap up today’s two-part column, and to do that I decided to throw open the gates of musical Hell, with a debut EP by a mysterious trio from the northeastern U.S. who call themselves Clergy.

At about 13 1/2 minutes long, this four-track attack is a fascinating musical horror show. The band have a quirky way of doing their fienish work, beginning all the songs in much less blood-lusting fashion than what they become. But following those eerily intriguing and sometimes bizarre haunted-house preludes, they drench the senses in abrasive, murky, diabolical riffs that undulate and maraud (and almost always sound dank), and the kind of vampiric shrieks that sound like ice-picks jammed into your ears, mercilessly digging away at sanity.

The songs further include convulsive guitar solos that bring the screaming supernatural shred, plus gear-shift drumming that erupts in maniacal outbursts. There are also episodes when the music swells in visions of hideous infernal grandeur, scampers and whirls, races to the hunt, or feels like someone has put LSD under your tongue.

Blood of the Clergy was released by Colloquial Sound Recordings on March 1st. I bought it without a second thought.


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