Sep 252020


Par-Delà Noireglaces et Brumes-Sinistres, the new album by the French band Crépuscule d’Hiver, is a time machine for the mind. It brings back memories of the more mysterious and fantastical strains of black metal from the ’90s, and also sends the imagination looping much further back, into a medieval age — or at least a long-lost age we romantically imagine it might have been, where even in blood, suffering, and death there was glory to be found, and an appreciation of elegance to be treasured.

The album is substantial in its length and tremendously elaborate in its experiences, produced by a combination of medieval black metal and dungeon synth, among other ingredients. It combines the talents of the band’s alter ego Stuurm, who is the composer, guitarist, keyboardist, lyricist, and principal vocalist, and NKLS, whose contributions as bassist and drummer play a vital role in the music’s overall success. In addition, credit must be given to an array of guest vocalists and guitarists — Hexēnn, Aker, 
Wÿntër Ärvń, Vettekult, and Spellbound — whose carefully chosen contributions make a richly multi-faceted album even more spellbinding.

The album is being released today by Les Acteurs de L’Ombre Productions, and it’s our pleasure to present a full stream of all the music, with our own thoughts about each of the seven songs. Continue reading »

Sep 252020


Gluttons of the most malignant and mutilating strains of death metal, open your maws wide and prepare to become engorged in your feeding. Everyone else, get ready to cower in the corner. Because on October 23rd Sentient Ruin Laboratories will release the debut album of Vancouver’s Ceremonial Bloodbath, aptly named The Tides of Blood.

The album is startling in the degree to which it plumbs the toxic depths of death metal darkness and dementia, and in its ability to discharge sonic sickness and chaos with such fiendishly ingenious calculation and such cleverly sadistic flourishes. That a new band have been able to achieve such heights of well-constructed slaughtering and drag the listener into such abysmal descents is not surprising when you learn that their line-up consists of members of such established bands as Scum Division Cult, Nightfucker, Encoffinate, Radioactive Vomit, Grave Infestation, Mass Grave, Temple of Abandonment, and Deathwinds.

As they say in the trade, the music’s not for the faint of heart. But for connoisseurs of top-shelf bestiality and supernatural dread, it’s a gem. And the album track we’re presenting today, “Primitive“, is proof positive of that. Continue reading »

Sep 252020


After beginning their career under the name Abysseral Throne in 2011, and thereafter releasing an album and an EP, Ancient Thrones both chose a new name and shifted ground among the Canadian Maritime Provinces from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia. In the process their line-up changed and they shifted ground in their sound as well. Now with a new name, in a new place, and having embraced some different influences than before, Ancient Thrones are poised to discharge a new concept album named The Veil, which will be released on November 6th.

You’ll see “Blackened Epic Heavy Metal” as Metal Archives‘ summing up of Abysseral Throne‘s music, and while that might not be entirely accurate, Abyssal Thrones recommend The Veil for fans of Revocation, Skeletonwitch, and The Red Chord — and their current name was inspired in part by a lyric from a Wolves In the Throne Room song.

It’s evident from the first single off The Veil (“The Soul to Flesh“), as well as from the song we’re premiering today (“The Sight of Oblivion“) why those afore-mentioned band references make sense. Both are high-voltage thrashers that show off impressive technical chops, with elements of black and death metal in the mix. But both also include evocative melodic accents that create contrasts with the songs’ hard-charging savagery and head-spinning instrumental flair. Continue reading »

Sep 232020


Not all metal bands, and in fact very few of them, unite behind a concept that’s as harrowing and as intriguing as the music they make. This isn’t intended as a criticism of bands who are content to make music that isn’t rooted in a conceptual vision or narrative. Good music is good music, regardless of its inspiration. And by the same token, a thought-provoking concept doesn’t make mediocre music any better. Yet when the two come together, the experience is even more special.

The Chilean trio Montaña Sagrada (“the Sacred Mountain”) have based their debut EP The Living Green, which we’re premiering in full today in advance of its September 25 release, on an especially intriguing (and mysterious) conception. Set during the 15th and 16th centuries, it focuses on a powerful group of people located on what would become known as Chiloé Island, a large island off the southern coast of Chile. “Shrouded in myth and protected by irrational fear”, these people had a firm hold on the population, with plans for domination that rivaled those of the European colonial powers. The band explain: Continue reading »

Sep 232020


On October 30th Art Gates Records will release Between Shades and Shadows, the debut album of the Belgian black metal band nether, whose music relies on both raw, visceral intensity and dark, evocative melodies. What we have for you today is the premiere of a song named “To the Shores“, accompanied by a video that draws out further dimensions of the music (perhaps metaphorical ones).

The video features dramatic images of natural power, from the violent assault of waves on rocky shores to building thunderheads, as well as scenes of lonesome wandering and of forests both barren and lush, and shrouded in mist. While the song itself, like the sea, packs plenty of assaulting power, it also has very human emotional connections — all of them fraught with tension and turmoil.

A listener might understand the music as a reflection of life’s misfortunes crashing against us, or of us crashing against life’s obstacles, but perhaps with other meditations in mind as well. Continue reading »

Sep 222020


This makes the third time we’ve done a premiere for the Israeli black metal band Arallu. The first time was about six weeks before the release of their 2017 album Six. The next time, roughly two years later, it was a song from their most recent full-length, En Olam. And today it’s a video for a song that’s… more than 20 years old!

It was 1999 when Arallu released their debut album, The War on the Wailing Wall, following an initial 1997 demo with the same title. In the decades that have followed that release, the band’s music evolved in dramatic ways. As we wrote about their most recent record, “the songs capture archetypes of violence and bloodshed, defiance of orthodoxy and devilish supremacy, but they also become spells,” and, as they had done before, the band augmented the metal “with the tones of ancient instruments, among them Saz, Oud, Kanoon, and Drabukka”, which were used to enhance the strong influence of Middle Eastern melodies.

Turning back the clock to the 1999 debut album, you can perceive the seeds that would grow into what the band has become today. But apart from the historical significance of the record, it turns out to have withstood the test of time very well. And so it’s not surprising that, at last, the album is being reissued on vinyl for the first time, complete with new vinyl mastering by Patrick W. Engel at “Temple of Disharmony”. And it’s one of those 1999 tracks that we’re bringing you today, accompanied by video of Arallu, as they are today, performing the song. Continue reading »

Sep 212020


Winds of Serpentine Ascension is the title of a new EP by the Toronto band Into Oblivion, and we’ll call it an EP because its tracklist is just three songs long — although they collectively amount to 35 minutes of music. The first two tracks, “Where Winds Wail and Gnaw” and “The Shattering Ascent” are longer than average, both of them falling between seven and eight minutes in length, but they lead up to a truly extravagant musical odyssey in “Eagle of the Serpent Sun“. That song, which we’re presenting today in advance of the EP’s September 29 release by Hessian Firm, is almost 20 minutes long.

The song is an odyssey in more than duration alone. As the band lead us through the richly varying movements of the song and its dramatic range of instrumentation and moods, it really does seem that we have embarked on a harrowing and heart-breaking journey, one that may only end in death for all concerned. And not only because of the EP’s cover art, it seems like the narrative of a warrior’s journey that crosses the sea and hostile lands. Continue reading »

Sep 182020


“I feel my throat tightening. It’s not the coronavirus or smoke. It’s rage—rage radiating up from my belly and my heart. We’re trapped inside because of the pandemic and because of the fires, but ultimately we are most confined by the inequality, selfishness, and greed that created this moment. Even in the wide-open West, we’re still stuck in the United States of America.” — Emma Maris, The Atlantic, Sept. 10, 2020

Unlike Emma Maris (and me), Dyatlove aren’t stuck in the United States. But they’re from the West, albeit the Canadian West (Vancouver BC, to be precise), and like Emma Maris (and me) they’ve probably been breathing what used to be forests in Washington and Oregon during the last week (and counting). They also sound plenty pissed-off, about some of the same things.

The band’s music isn’t the kind of extreme metal we usually cover at this site, but I’d say they’re “adjacent” — and there’s an explosive emotional fury in the song and video we’re presenting today that’s so cathartic (and so demolishing) that it’s more than welcome here. Continue reading »

Sep 182020


Roughly two years after the release of their Serpent’s Curse debut album, Heads For the Dead have risen from whatever moldering, lightless tomb where they’ve been hibernating, and they’re hungry… for your flesh. Or at least they certainly sound famished for the delights of crunching bones, rendered entrails, and gushing ichor based on the new song we’re about to present.

That debut album was a massive-sounding exposition of Swedish death metal with an attraction to the tropes of old-school horror, and an addictive work of mauling terror it was, as exemplified by our dropping of one of its tracks into our list of Most Infectious Extreme Metal songs that year. Based on this new song — “At the Dead of Night“, which we’re presenting through a lyric video — they’ve lost none of their ability to crush, rend, and frighten in the intervening time.

But before we get to it, that image at the top of this post isn’t the cover of their forthcoming sophomore album Into the Red — this is: Continue reading »

Sep 172020


Three years after the epic opus Chaos Philosophorum, the Dutch band Dystopia are returning with a remarkably multi-faceted new album named Geen Weg Uit, which will be released by Wolves of Hades on September 25th. It consists of three songs, two of which are divided into multiple parts.

Trying to sum up the album’s kaleidoscope of musical sensations is a daunting task. At its core, the music is black metal, but the band also incorporate elements of death metal, ethereal ambient music, prog-rock, and psychedelia — and they give a prominent role to a brass section. You might wonder how in the world all these moving parts could be joined together into something that makes sense, but banish any doubts you might have, because they do — with spectacular results. Continue reading »