Jun 102023

Tough choices to make today, but that’s every Saturday morning, even when I manage to round up some recent selections the day before (which I did this week). Knowing that I’ve got a third chance to make recommendations tomorrow (via Shades of Black) makes it slightly easier, though I didn’t shove off all the black metal into tomorrow.

There’s no real theme to today’s choices, other than the tennis-ball-in-the-tumble-dryer theme that I also used yesterday. Prepare to get bounced around again. (I did decide to book-end the collection with horrors.)


I’m drawn to new Undergang releases like a fly to honey, though in their case the better analogy may be flies drawn to a steaming pile of fresh viscera. Even sweeter, the latest Undergang release is a split with Colorado’s Spectral Voice.

Undergang‘s three tracks provide a bracing mix of brazenly hideous grandiosity, swarming derangement, jolting thuggery, supernatural eeriness, and suppurating infection, all of it narrated by monstrous gutturals and demented howls, interspersed with filthy gagging. The sound achieves a good balance between toxic distortion for the riffs, freakish clarity for the soloing, brittle reverberation for the dismal interlude in the third track, and general mortar-fire explosiveness for the drums.

The songs are also loaded with hooks, never mind that they’ve been used to gut victims or beat them with the claw end of hammers. As ever, Undergang make renditions of blood-spraying riot and blood-congealing ghastliness into a truly gleeful listening experience. They’re at the top of their game here, and not many other death metal bands are capable of playing in the same ballpark with such aplomb.

Spectral Voice only have one song on the split (“Craving Final Impasse“), and therefore to balance the sides it’s a long one. It’s a horror of a different kind.

Over the course of nearly 14 minutes, the song proceeds through a hellish labyrinth. Its slow-moving initial phase creates an atmosphere fitting for the ferryman crossing the Styx — doomed, dismal, frightening, and entirely out of this world. The monstrous low frequencies undulate and then heave; the high-end sensations shiver and then sizzle and scream. Eventually, vocals scream too (torture pits may be visible on the other side of the waters of death).

The song is a rising tide of oppression and fear. It grows increasingly tormented and tumultuous. Bursts of feverish fretwork, rumbling bass, and clobbering percussion become manifest, along with cavernous roars and ringing arpeggios that sound like something out of a gothic Western. The tide also recedes, sucking the listener away with hopeless undertows while incorporeal spirits wail and moan, given voice by creepy guitars.

Relentlessly dire and dreadful, the song is nevertheless hideously mesmerizing. If I hadn’t told you, and if you don’t watch the clock, I’ll bet you’d have no idea how long the song really lasted by the time it ends.

This new split was released just yesterday by Dark Descent and Extremely Rotten Productions, on CD, vinyl (already sold out), and digital formats.





Anticosmic Ceremony“, the opening track of the album I’ve chosen next. doesn’t sound like what you might expect from the album’s name — The Detonation of the Cosmos — but its slow, eerily ringing piano melody and rumbles of thunder do provide a very good (and very chilling) segue from that Spectral Voice song.

The funereal mood persists through the tolling of bells at the outset of the second song, “Bane of St. Miguel“, but then the assault on the cosmos does begin, courtesy of hammering and stalking drums, whining, slithering, and imperiously blaring guitars, and a horrific cavalcade of demon-spawned vocals.

From there, Invocatio maneuver through seven more tracks that lead listeners on a wide-ranging excursion through blighted and blazing infernal realms. Anchored by a bass you can feel in your bones and drums that disturb the guts, deployed in dynamic, tempo-shifting fashion, the band weave a changing array of riffage that channels moods of sadistic depravity, cold cruelty, lustful ecstasy, and stricken misery.

And while the vocals remain mostly ugly and berserk, they sometimes rise up in haughty and hallowed singing or hellish choral chants, or give themselves over to beastly pronouncements and fanatical gang yells.

The album is a bit of a genre mash-up, and all the better for it, intertwining varying strands of primitive and occult black metal with bits of thrash, old school doom, devilish rock, and what one might call classic heavy metal — plus whatever label you might struggle to apply to the thoroughly surprising melodic twists in “Mahapralaya” or the beguiling but sinister and sorrowful closing instrumental “Perpetual Void“, which rings in the head long after it ends.

The music often has a primeval, “stripped down” feeling, and comes across with an organic, made-in-the-garage sound that suits the unpretentious quality of the music. But don’t take away the wrong conclusion from what I just said — Invocatio know how to write songs that dig their dirty claws in, and they pack them with so many variations both within and among the songs that the album never becomes dull.

I’ll also say that the album sounds like these maniacs had a blast making it, and never more so than when it hits heights of horned excess. I sure as hell had a blast listening to it.

The record was released just today by Self Mutilation Services. I only intended to give it a quick taste after seeing a Bandcamp alert from the label, but as you can see, I happily got sucked all the way in.





Time for another musical bounce within this tumble-dryer of a collection, and it comes via a lyric video for a Spellsword song called “Knights of Woden“.

Lyrically, the song is a celebration of Asgardian warriors, the knights of Woden who rode forth to battle in the cold northlands. The music well-suits the mythic narrative. Launched by an overture of sweeping cinematic scale, it soon rides to battle on the back of neck-snapping and fast-galloping snare-work and glorious tremolo’d riffing, with extravagant (and clearly enunciated) snarls narrating the charge.

Just past the halfway mark a big bass pulse and punching back-beat take the reins, and the guitars ring out a beautiful bell-like harmony that elevates the spirit of the music even higher. It culminates in a reprise of the opening riff, which you may then realize has gotten stuck in your head already.

The song is from a debut album named Night Of The Grail, which will be released by Nox Liberatio Records. The video is accompanied by this statement from project mastermind Alex Mendes:

“The very first song written for this endeavor, defined by simplicity and rhyme. The frontality of early Darkthrone with the wonder of Windir. An optimistic melody for an optimistic song. Be warned that no other shares this character. Expect a darker turn.”





I have just enough time to add one more song before wrapping up this round-up, and I picked this one mainly because it’s such a neck-wrecker — though not at first.

At first, you’ll hear spooky ambient whispers, gloomy Gregorian chants, and what might be sounds of distant dungeon-deep torture. And then… then the neck-wrecking begins, preceded by a militaristic snare tattoo.

Those sounds of torture become fully manifest in the crazed and crocodilian vocal cacophonies and in shrill, boiling guitars, but the main force is the application of a brutal, mid-paced sonic pile-driver. You’ll be a few inches shorter after you hear this, or at least pounded knee-deep into the ground.

A thoroughly gruesome, malignant, and deranged experience, ruthlessly simple in its ingredients (other than the twisted compilations of vocal depravity), but it knows where your reptile brain lives and asserts squatter’s rights there.

The name of the song, fittingly, is “Desecrated Guts“. It’s from an album fittingly named Moribound. It has a release date of July 24th from Godz Ov War Productions. Mark Riddick is responsible for the cover art.



  1. Undergang are of the utmost boring stuff you’ll ever heard, seriously whats with all this hype around this band for years on and on… endless repetition

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