Review: Deus Vermin – Monument to Decay

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Label: F H E D

Blackened death metal, on the face of it, might seem like an intuitive genre, or one that’s easy to write. Throw together some whirlwind riffs; layer it with skull-crushing drums and vocals from somewhere down deep and dark, and voila! One record of soul-destroying darkness. Except, it’s not quit that simple, and a lot of bands lose something when actually recording their songs. That’s not the case for Deus Vermin, whose new EP Monument to Decay takes the promise of their demo tape and really runs with it, conjuring up the kind of world-ending atmospheres that blackened death metal aims for, but so often falls short of. This is up there with the best of them, and is a bright (dark) star of British black metal.

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Review: Skogen – Skuggorna Kallar

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Label: Nordvis

Skuggorna Kallar, the fifth album from Skogen, is a work of glorious darkness. Pulling together folk and black metal in ways that testify to the experience of the band, the album is like a journey through some forgotten woodland, full of sights and sounds as wondrous as they are terrifyingly captivating. It is a record content to take its time, with front-loaded appeal but keeping its best aspects slightly hidden, that feels as if it is possessed of a spirit that calls to something almost-forgotten in mankind; a sense of connection to the world around us, of respect for nature, and an understanding of our place in it.

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Album of the Day: Wode – Servants of the Countercosmos

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Label: Avantgarde Music

The self-titled debut album from Wode was good, if maybe a little too in thrall of its influences. The follow-up, 2017’s Servants of the Countercosmos, was an improvement in practically every way possible. The sense of grandeur is still there, but a sense of celestial violence and other-worldly disdain was much more to the fore, as if channeling the spirits of Dissection, Deathspell Omega, and English heritage black metal in to some demonic form. It also contains the catchiest song the band have written to date, a greater sense of variety, and the kind of charisma that could see the band go far.

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Review: Agrona – Realm of the Fallen

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Label: UKEM Records

The debut album from Welsh band Agrona is an interesting one. Though it doesn’t really stick within the constraints of what a black metal album should sound like, nor does it really push at the boundaries of the style. There’s something about Realm of the Fallen that is simultaneously trve and kvlt, whilst also feeling like it has been created without any consideration of genre. Sitting somewhere between Dimmu Borgir and Anaal Nathrakh, it is a very distinctive album that moves will bulldozering force, the energy of which ensures that it combination of styles works even as the album itself is constantly shifting form.

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Review: Abstracter – Cinerous Incarnate

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Label: Tartarus Records / Sentient Ruin Laboratories / Vendetta Records / I, Voidhanger Records / Daymare Recordings

One of the real joys of underground music is watching bands develop before our eyes, going from promising early releases to albums that more than live up to expectations. Such is the case with the latest album from AbstracterCinerous Incarnate. The band have evolved, building on their earlier sounds, bringing further elements of noise and dark ambient to their already soul-crushing fusion of doom, black, death, and crust. It makes Cinerous Incarnate an album of utter despair and world-ending heaviness, filled with the kind of riffs that can collapse buildings and an atmosphere of the most haunting, searing dread.

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Album of the Day: Exhaustion – Demo

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Label: COF Records

It’s a real shame that Exhaustion went no further than releasing a single demo. Said demo was a short blast of blackened hardcore fury, moving with relentless fury and viciousness. A relatively brief affair – over and done within 12 minutes – it still contained more than enough power and quality to show that the band were capable of much bigger things over an extended period. Alas, it seems that is not to be, as the band have seemingly not so much split up, but drifted away.

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Review: Wargoat / Black Ceremonial Kult – Unapproachable Laws of the Abyss (split)

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Label: Godz ov War Productions

Unsurprisingly, for bands with such names, both Wargoat and Black Ceremonial Kult draw from the more extreme ends of black and death metal, with this split showcasing both bands’ command of war and bestial metal. Unapproachable Laws of the Abyss is a half hour onslaught of grinding riffs, skull-crushing drums, and vocals bellowed by beasts from the depths of Hell. It’s hardly original, but nor is it seeking to be. Instead, this split aims for utter devastation through sonic warfare, and achieves its goals in uncompromising style.

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