Review: Altars of Grief – Iris

Altars of Grief - Iris Cover [2018]

Label: Hypnotic Dirge Records

Despite being “only” 55 minutes long, Iris feels much, much longer. The second album from Altars of Grief is a leviathan of blackened, gothic doom, filled with a spirit that is equal parts mournful and furious. Telling the tale of a father who abandons his sick daughter, only to die and be condemned to watch her slowly succumb to illness, it is every bit as bright as the subject matter implies. And yet, there is something curiously addictive about the album, leaving listeners coming back for more, despite the heart-breaks they know will follow.  Continue reading

Kval – Kval (self-titled)

Kval - Kval [album cover]

Label: Hypnotic Dirge Records

If any style can be said to capture the zeitgeist of black metal over the past few years – in the way that the Scandinavian second wave did in the mid-90’s, or symphonic did a few years after that – it would be atmospheric black metal. And as with any (relatively) popular style of music, there are a lot of dull, uninspired records being made that aim to be atmospheric and hypnotic, but simply end up feeling dull and boring. So, it makes the discovery of a record like the self-titled album from Kval all the more special. It may be easily recognisable as the nature-inspired atmospheric black metal we all know and (possibly) love, but Kval has a sense of character, strength, and aura that is all too rare.

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