Jul 092023

Over the last few days, in between other things, I wandered down an underground musical path that took some very unexpected turns. Rather than focus on names that might be well-known, I focused instead on obscurity. I did recognize two names whose new music I explored (they begin and end today’s collection), but most I had never before.

In each instance, something about the music grabbed me, even when in some instances it initially seemed to pose a rude challenge to my ear drums. I hope you’ll find it an interesting musical odyssey, as I did, straight through to the fascinating surprise that’s waiting at the end. I don’t expect everything will appeal to everyone, but what does?

SZNUR (Poland)

As noted, I’m beginning with a name that already resonated well with me thanks to my discovery of the band’s third album, Dom Człowieka, soon after its release by Godz Ov War Productions about two years ago (which I enthusiastically reviewed here). Now Sznur‘s fourth album Ludzina is on the way from the same Godz Ov War. I haven’t yet heard all of it, but the two tracks currently streaming are high-octane fuel for the reptile brain.

Kurwy” is a hard-charging heart-puncher, with big hooks that dig in damned fast, but it also maneuvers into far more sinister and seditious territory. It features constantly variably drumming, a plethora of vibratory riffs that swirl the mind and hammer the neck, and truly bestial vocal malevolence. It has feral power, and it’s damned infectious.

There’s more punk in the mix with “Płyny“, but it’s equally feral, fiendish, and ferocious, and just as damned difficult to get out of your head after you’ve heard it. Yet it also becomes a dire and dramatic anthem before it ends, and man, the vocals are if anything even more devil-spawned than before.

Ludzina will be released by Godz Ov War on July 24th.





Speaking of obscurity, the next song I chose is the first single from the first album by a solo project named Discorporate. It was just released two days ago, with Menta (originally from France but now living in the U.S.) handling guitars, bass, vocals, and keyboards, joined by David Sikora from Krigsgrav on drums.

The song is “I to I“. You’ll figure out pretty fast that it isn’t orthodox black metal. Its production is fairly clear and also musters heavyweight power, but beyond that it’s the song’s strange and sinister harmonies and its increasingly progressive variations that make it stand out as something unconventional but captivating.

As the riffing and the lead-guitar motifs change (which they do constantly), it channels moods of menace and madness, of brooding and exhilaration, and the changing moods also draw fuel from the changing array of bestiary vocals. (Particularly exhilarating is the spectacular guitar solo.) I’m tempted to label this “avant-garde black metal”, though I’m never sure how much good that amorphous label really does.

I’ll also share what Menta has said about the music:

The core and direction of this band is based on this absolute freedom that this dark genre should always stick to, despite this oh so contradictory dogmatic behavior of this scene in general. So I decided to look toward the East, and inspire my journey through the old Vedic writings, where one would face himself within and without, transcending this materialistic dual world illusion they call “Maya”, symbolically and metaphorically. Freeing this “night music” from this aspect, where “God” or “satan” are just not there.

The name of Discorporate‘s debut album is That Which Is Not. It was produced, mixed, and mastered by JT Longoria (King Diamond, Absu), and it will be released in September through Adharma Records.




A//PLAGUE (Brazil)

Metal-Archives tells us that the US label Fiadh Productions had a founding date of February 6th, 2022, and that the Spanish label Vita Detestabilis Records had a founding date of August 7th, 2022. Not so long ago, but since then they’ve both jointly released an extravagant number of records, mostly on tape (and digital). I wish I had time to listen to all of them because I’ve yet to be disappointed. The new EP Long dark veins by the Brazilian project A//Plague (aka A Plague), whose sole member is also part of the Void Me duo, is the most recent case in point.

I thought my heart was going to explode when I first started listening to the title track, which opens the EP. Driven by rocket-speed drumming, it’s an engulfing blaze of sound, both sweeping in its scale and obliterating in its heat, and the screamed vocals are themselves obliterating. But just when you risk stroking out, the song switches into the pulse of a big slashing riff and pounding grooves, and then switches again into something like a vibrantly ringing lament.

But the changes keep coming, and they’re even more surprising. You’ll encounter deep gong-like tones and even deeper throat singing; the seductive glitter of a languidly strummed and slowly picked guitar; and that piercing lament again.

Just that one song sets a very high bar, and thankfully the next three songs (two of which are reissues of the tracks on the band’s 2022 demo Man-made Tragedies) are up to the challenge. Like the title track, “Tipping point” is capable of blistering the senses and blasting them to smithereens, but those dense ringing chords give voice to a feeling of despair, and this song also changes, working in an episode of jolting defiance.

The other two (previously released) songs make excellent companions for the two newer ones, just as torrential in their power, just as harrowing in their moods, and (almost) as surprising in their twists — though they’re not in the tier of the title track. The bass performance in “Entombed” gets especially high marks.

It also doesn’t hurt that, as the labels say, A//Plague has “a very loud antifascist message”.

Long dark veins was released on July 5th and is available through the links below.






The following album-length split is the main thing I had in mind when I wrote at the outset that some of the music in today’s collection initially seemed to pose a rude challenge to my ear drums. In some obvious respects both of these bands (whose locations remain unknown to me despite my searching) embrace the ethic of raw black metal — mainly the distorted sandstorm riffing and the vocals calculated to cause paint on the walls to bubble and then drain onto the floor. Though the riffing isn’t as shrill and tinny as a lot of RBM, it’s still an assault on the senses.

However, neither of these bands is content to just scathe and shriek, and there’s nary a blast-beat to be found (though the drumming does occasionally go full-throttle). You’ll figure out the unorthodoxy immediately via the exotic and enthralling ring, ripple, and warble of Anonymous Skull‘s intro track, and then figure it out again in “Rot Eternal” when eerie wailing tones unfurl through the raucous tumult and the music segues into a deathrocking riff, or when “Bone Tryals” starts lumbering like a big monster, emitting its own weird warbling wail, before becoming ruinously and dismally cacophonous.

By then it will dawn on you that none of Anonymous Skull‘s five tracks are going to all be the same thing, and sure enough “Midnight Oil in Heresy” anchors itself on a kind of surf-rock riff and begins spinning and crashing like an exultant dervish, culminating in static-shrouded soprano chants. Corroded piano tones and heaving or glistening organ notes provide the “Interlude” (along with ghastly demon snarls), and the death rock comes through again in “Blissful Jump Into the Horrible“, where heads will nod and goosebumps will rise, because it’s fiendishly frightful. And at last there’s Anonymous Skull‘s “Outroduction“, which will get muscles jumping but whose clanging chords and whistling winds are just plain creepy.

Nightgoat Invokate the Stars also refrains from orthodoxy. Only two songs here from them. After opening with an abusive sonic collage, “Rats Ruo Fo Xetrov Eht Nihtiw” surges into high gear and drenches the mind with high scarring guitars, full-riot drumming, wretched echoing wails, scalding screams, and crocodile gurgling. That song also includes lots of twists and turns in pacing and drum progressions; a big growly bass plays a big role; and there’s ghostly and gloomy singing as well as twanging guitars in the mix.

How does Nightgoat Invokate the Stars balance out Anonymous Skull‘s seven tracks with only two? Because the second one, “Ascension of Our Angulped” is almost 13 minutes long. I won’t try to map its path for you in detail, but will say that it again includes standout drumming that’s not prettied-up, monster bass lines caked with grit, lots of vocal variety, elements of gothic and post-punk as well as deathrock and surf rock, instrumental freakouts that will give your head a swift spin, and (after a dead stop) a staggering stomp through a haunted house of horrors.

The split was just released on July 7th by Moonworshipper Records (based in Omaha, Nebraska). I did vaguely recognize Anonymous Skull‘s name, thanks to Neill Jameson‘s writing about the band’s previous releases for us — in one of those he called Anonymous Skull “a practitioner of genuine and terrifying outsider black metal” — but stupid me, I never dived into the music before now.




AUTGER (Russia)

To close, I have the big surprise I promised at the outset, and it’s the work of the third band in this collection whose name I knew. What I also knew from past experience was to expect the unexpected, from a creator well-versed in a wide range of musical and mystical traditions and a very talented performer, both instrumentally and vocally.

I think the best place to begin is with the names of the three songs on this new EP (Tantric Danse, Macabre Jazz), followed by part of Autger‘s statement about it:

1. Callipygian Night Clothed with the Grapevine Sun
2. Elegy for Venus & Tantric Flamenco
3. O Steppe! O Grief! O Patria!

Tantric Danse, Macabre Jazz” is a full exploration of the immersive connection between the South & the East, touching on a voluminous musical layer that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea (eclecticism of Spain, mysticism of Italy) to the transition to the East through the Balkans & Greece, in particular, I praise the steppes, the Volga-Ural region, the Don Cossacks. This is a magnificent sound of the mystical South at the crossroads with the diverse East, which was embellished with the most exquisite types of vocals & the ornateness of the musical palette used, including Russian & Italian opera, the singing techniques of Spain & the harmonies of India.

Actually, I think that’s just about all I should tell you before leaving you to the music, other than this: If you might feel bruised, blistered, bloodied, and grimy after everything else I’ve recommended today, this will gently bathe and cleanse you in exotically aromatic waters — though you’ll find a heartbeat pulse here and there too.



  1. Highly recommend getting all of Anonymous Skull’s releases.

    • I should have paid better attention when Neill was ringing the bell. I’m listening now. Very curious to see what the previous releases are like.

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