Review: Above Aurora – Path To Ruin

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Label: Pagan Records

If anything defines modern Polish black metal, it would be a feeling of melancholy being transmitted by the music, with its distinctive melodies and aura of spiritual darkness. Such bleak sounds can make for a captivating listen, and that’s certainly the case for Path to Ruin, the new EP from Above Aurora. Though only seventeen minutes long, this EP carries a lifetime of sorrow and ill-feeling with it; and yet at no point does it ever sound defeated or self-pitying. This is music that accepts that hardship is part of life, and that there is little point protesting about that basic fact.

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Album of the Day: Nokturnal Ritual – Out from the Old Earth

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Label: Self-released

Sheffield-based duo Nokturnal Ritual have been around for five years now, and in that time have improved their second-wave inspired black metal attack considerably. Entity of the Unholy was an improvement over debut Ushering a New Era of Agony; and, in turn, new album Out from the Old Earth is an improvement over Entity of the Unholy. Theirs is no grand evolution of black metal, but instead a dark celebration of the genre, paying homage to masters of old without sounding trapped by the restrictions of the genre. It’s relatively straight-forward black metal played with conviction and talent, and sometimes, that’s exactly what you want to hear.

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Review: Arkheth – 12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew

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Label: Transcending Obscurity Records

Before we go far in to this review of Arkheth‘s third album, take a moment to look at that cover. Needless to say, it’s not what you expect from a black metal record – bright, garish colours; psychedelic landscapes; and a sense of conventions being not so much cast down, as utterly ignored in favor of doing whatever the fuck you want. It’s also a good summary of the sounds contained within 12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew. Though the album is undeniably black metal, it takes almost everything you know about the genre and flips it on its head. This is black metal as defined by Sigh and psychedelics, rather than Mayhem and misery. It’s a bit of a headfuck, and a definite artistic triumph.

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Album of the Day: Rotting Christ – Rituals

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Label: Season of Mist

One of the most bizarre metal-related news stories of recent weeks is that Rotting Christ have been arrested in Georgia, on terrorism charges relating to the band’s name. They have since been released, but it’s a bizarre, and worrying, turn of events. Rather than dwell on the negatives though, let’s take a moment to appreciate just how superb a band they are, and that they’re still releasing albums of the quality of Rituals even 30 years after they formed.

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Album of the Day: Deus Vermin – MMXVII (Demo)

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Label: Self-released

Clocking in at a short six minutes, the debut demo by Leeds-based band Deus Vermin is a whirlwind of blackened death metal, full of destructive urges given license to run free and wreak havoc. The two tracks on MMXVII are incredibly well-realised for a demo, with a compositional strength that many bands writing full-lengths would kill for; and they’re all wrapped up in an atmosphere that is both murky and strong, allowing every bone-crushing drum hit and skin-shredding guitar line to come through clearly, whilst keeping enough obscured to still feel dark and ominous. It’s a very impressive start for this band, and well worth your time.

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Review: Voidthrone – Kur

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Label: Self-released

Don’ t let the cover fool you; Kur, the second album from Seattle-based five-piece Voidthrone, is dark. Though its fairly short, being only 24 minutes long, the unconventional black/death metal onslaught contained within the EP is more than enough to conjure visions of worlds falling to oblivion, swept away under a cataclysmic tide of blackness. Though the band may recall a host of influences – including, but not limited to, Deathspell Omega, Batushka, Gorguts, and Morbid Angel – at no point do they ever sound like anyone other than themselves, making Kur an incredibly potent and impressive EP, that doesn’t so much cross over genres as it does defy them completely.

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Review: Blutvial – Mysteries of Earth

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Label: Heidens Hart Records 

Mysteries of Earth is not a complicated record – and I say that as a compliment. The third album from UK black metal veterans Blutvial is filled with the kind of music that cuts to the core of the ‘traditional’ black metal sound, as if the genre reached its final evolutionary state somewhere around 1994. This is no bad thing; there is a genuine delight to be found in records such as this, where the artists involved combine what they love about a core set of influences and create something that doesn’t sound exactly like any of them. It may be second wave worship through-and-through; but it’s second wave worship done right, and that raises it above most of the competition out there.

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