Jun 252023

As forecast in Part 1 of today’s collection of blackened sounds, this Part compiles a small mountain of music — three complete albums and one complete EP. As also forecast, the music is nightmarish in different ways — some of it capable of causing skin to crawl, some of it blistering the flesh, and some of it accomplishing both objectives. But I also think the music is just as fascinating as it is frightening. I hope you’ll feel the same way.

G.N.L.S. (Greece)

Two weeks ago I wrote (here) about an album named Asphyxiating Late Night Sessions, which was a collaboration between Dødsferd‘s mastermind Wrath and m.Sarvok. But it wasn’t the sole result of their working together. Even earlier this year they released another collaborative album under the name G.N.L.S. (Geometric Nictation of Lament’s Space), and it’s a very different experience from the more recent release.

On the G.N.L.S. album, Conspiracy of Thought, Wrath wrote the lyrics and performed the main vocals, and m.Sarvok created the music and performed backing vocals. The results truly are capable of unnerving listeners, but are also relentlessly fascinating.

Like the other collaboration by these two tortured souls, Conspiracy of Thought is very difficult to sum up. At a very high level, it’s a multi-faceted collage of styles and sensations — with mind-bending and often desolating consequences. Certainly, Wrath‘s vocals are the songs’ most devastating feature. They vary, but in almost all their variations they sound like the unhinged, throat-ruining result of extreme emotional torture, wretched and ruined beyond repair.

What happens around and in between all the shattering vocals varies dramatically. The opening song, for example, is a melancholy, classically influenced piano prelude — eventually backed by stunning percussive bomb-drops and nattering gasps, and while the piano and additional percussive detonations provide a connection into the second song, it unfolds further into a stricken march, and showers the senses with flickering sonic sheens and brittle picked notes, along with the advent of ragged roars and incinerating screams.

The rhythms in that second song transition into a powerful head-hooking thump and then a military snare-tattoo, leading into a grim, siren-like motif that seems to signal dread and downfall on a vast scale, culminating in a battering and blazing revolt of violence and torment.

From there, the music continues delivering surprises, usually elaborate and rich in their layers. Here and there you might get flashes of Pink Floyd, Ved Buen Endes, or King Crimson, along with distorted spoken words, operatic wails, and big body-moving grooves. Synths, both symphonic and astral, play central roles, creating vast panoramas of wonder or ruin, but the wailing peal of the guitar in “Vulnerable Secret” and the warm meandering and propulsive push of the body-throbbing bass become central features of that extraordinary track as well, which seems on the whole like a mysterious, mesmerizing, and menacing astral excursion. (The wide-ranging vocals, as usual, are again a striking feature of that song.)

Vulnerable Secret” is set to play first in the Bandcamp stream, and for good reason, because it’s such a stunner. You may, therefore, be tempted to start with it, but I do recommend you then begin at the beginning and make this trip in the order laid out before you then get to the horrifying vocals and spooky exotic psychedelia of “The Frustrating Collapse of Soul and Body“, which seems to sway like a demon cobra as it spins its twisted spell, leading into a nightmare void, and the intriguing and ultimately horrifying otherworldliness of “The Prosperity of an Incomplete Burden“, which closes the album and includes saxophone-like melodies that moan like apparitions of smoke, and something like the ping of a child’s toy piano.

Conspiracy of Thought was released in March by FYC Records.





Today’s frightening journey continues with Comme des Revenants Parmi les Ruines, the just-released debut album by the Québec black metal band Sacrenoir, whose veteran lineup includes Athros (Brume d’Automne, Forteresse) and Monarque (Monarque, Forteresse).

The album warrants more discursive treatment than I have time to give it, and so the aspects I want to underscore don’t capture everything that happens. One of those aspects is how wild and electrifying the music often sounds, from the superheated firestorms and slashing blades of the riffing to the brilliant trill of the leads, the maniacal headlong rush of the blasting drums and hurtling bass (which thankfully is quite detectable), and the torrid teeth-bared screams and possessed cries of the vocals.

Another aspect, however, is that Sacrenoir continuously break things up, stepping away from the gloriously unchained ferocity to deliver moments of poisonous menace, demonic haughtiness, hungering lust, and pitch-black sorcery. Moreover, when “the rhythm section” put their minds to it, they set up rocking and lurching grooves and d-beat scampers that are damned irresistible.

And if you want to get your head pumping like a high-octane piston and then broiled over a poisonous flame, check out “Le puits du diable“. And if you want to feel like you’ve been elevated into glory, only to descend into agony, well there’s “Aux portes de l’enfer“. And if you want to put a chill on your flesh and be beckoned by wraiths, stay in place for the surprising ethereal wonder of the drifting, Lustre-like closer, “Parmi les ruines“.

Comme des Revenants Parmi les Ruines was released on June 24th by Sepulchral Productions.





Now we leap halfway around the world from Montréal and land on An Ode To The Rot, the latest release by the Iranian one-man project VitaPhobia (the work of Bardia Haddad (Dej Khim), who also painted the disturbing cover art).

Only three songs long, but all of them much longer than average, the EP is an elaborate tale of terrors and tragedy. Like the vocals in the G.N.L.S. album up above, the expressions here are terrifying in the extremity of their wretchedness and torment, and the music itself is capable of reaching dire and dismal depths, but there are also surprises in store.

There’s an unnerving pulse in the grim riffing that opens “Faceless and Silent“, and manifestations of incurable pain in the feverish guitar tones, which then transmute into sounds of flesh-eating disease when the humongous bass and bone-fracturing drums vanish.

I hate to spoil the surprise, but the song also transforms even more dramatically, making space for a beautifully slow and sad instrumental section in which celestial voices add their striking laments. What follows is a heavy and oppressive funeral march through sodden earth beneath drenching skies, eventually enlivened by a throbbing kick drum, sizzling riffage, sorrowing symphonic strings, and again the gleaming magnificence of celestial emanations.

Rather than chart the course of the following two songs in such detail, I’ll say that, like the first one, “Drowning in Nothing” and the title track are multi-faceted journeys. In those you’ll find moments of beautifully reverberating poignancy, wrenching grief, grim and gutting rage, and devastating agony.




D.R.E.P. (Netherlands)

Finally, I’m concluding this mammoth column with another band who, like the first one in Part 1 of today’s collection, had its beginnings long, long ago but has been resurrected after 25 years of silence. This band goes by the name D.R.E.P., and we can deduce what the abbreviation stands for from the name of their recent debut album: Drastically Reducing Earth’s Population.

The band may be extremely obscure, but its members have some notoriety from their membership in other formations: The Monolith Deathcult (Robin Kok, aka Kombustar); Duivel (Pascal Altena, aka Deportator), and Heidenland (Jasper van der Veen, aka Havoque). What they’ve devoted themselves to under the banner of D.R.E.P. is a kind of utterly nihilistic and ruthlessly incinerating industrial black metal.

I really am running out of time now, so again, I just want to emphasize some of the album’s signal ingredients rather than try to provide a comprehensive picture, and let the music itself do that. Among those are enraged and ruinous vocals, half-barked and half-screamed and seemingly capable of leaving vocal chords torn apart in a bloody ruin (their extremity rivals that of G.N.L.S. and VitaPhobia above). And then there’s the mechanized drumming, which frequently erupts in bursts of inhuman speed, and the bass-work, which is human but also often riotously fast.

As for the riffing, it’s usually straight out of a madhouse, fast and incinerating, corrosive and cruel. But there really are riffs here, head-hookers that emerge from within the gale-force wildfires and blizzards of knives that the guitars usually churn out around the rhythmic tumults and machine-like pounding, as well as slithering filaments of dire and distressing melody. And like the Sacrenoir album above, this one includes something of a surprise at the end in “Nedergang“.

Mainly, however, the music seems constructed to do exactly what the band and album’s name portend  – in about 25 minutes, drastically reduce Earth’s population (and revel in the loss of life).

(Thanks to Miloš for linking me to this one.)

Drastically Reducing Earth’s Population was released by the Nomad Snakepit label on May 15th.


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