Myrkur finally realises her potential on Mareridt

I’ve always believed that Myrkur had it in her to release a truly great album. Amalie Bruun strikes me as a woman invested in the music she creates, who loves what she does, and has been steadily but surely improving and refining her music since her debut EP in 2014. I still think that her self-titled EP didn’t do her justice, and said as much in my review at the time. Her debut full-length album the following year was a significant improvement, but I knew she was capable of more, if only she would let go of the need to stick so rigidly to writing “black metal” and allow herself to compile a more diverse set of songs; on her second full-length album Mareridt, Myrkur finally delivers on all the promise that I knew she had, and has succeeded in creating the best album of her career to date, and one of the best albums of 2017.

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Album review: Wolves in the Throne Room – “Thrice Woven”

I needed an album like this in 2017. An album to take me away from things as they are, away from all the specifics of my own circumstances, and to a place I think many of us have a kind of subconscious nostalgia for, a place we might never have been to, a place which perhaps never existed at all. Olypmia, Washington black metal band Wolves in the Throne Room have always succeeded in this respect. With their debut album ‘Diadem of 12 Stars’, the band translated the cold style of Norwegian black metal into their own American cultural context, re-emerging as an expression of the band’s deep connection with the Pacific North West. The band don’t fundamentally change their approach on “Thrice Woven”, but it’s certainly a more aggressive and immediately gratifying approach to a familiar concept.

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Review: Time Lurker – “Time Lurker”

Time Lurker is a one-man atmospheric black metal project that came to life in Strasbourg, France in 2014. Though it is technically a solo project, a number of other musicians contributed to this record, including members of ParamnesiaPyrecult, and Le Mal des Ardents. Their debut full-length album, the eponymous Time Lurker, channels charts a course that explores the nature of the human condition through the medium of introspective, atmospheric black metal. Stylistically it reminds me of Mare Cognitum, Aureole, or Spectral Lore. The sheer scale and ambition of the compositions contained within is as impressive as it is daunting, the intensity of the emotions and the consequential catharsis exhausting. While it very occasionally bites off more than it can chew, Time Lurker is an exhilarating, emotionally draining record from start to finish. Continue reading “Review: Time Lurker – “Time Lurker””

Review: Au-Dessus – “End of Chapter”

Lithuania’s Au-Dessus‘s debut album “End of Chapter” is a haunting, moving piece of post-black metal mastery. Conceptualised as both sequel and conclusion to their 2015 self-titled EP, “End of Chapter” sees Au-Dessus push deeper into the realms of dissonant, unsettling extreme metal. Comparisons with bands such as Blut Aus NordDeathspell Omega, and Schammasch are natural and appropriate, but Au-Dessus more than do enough to carve out their own niche in this flourishing style of black metal. Jarring, dissonant guitar riffs metamorphose into crushing passages of atmospheric sludge metal brutality; inhuman, tortured howls give way to melodic, passionate singing. Make no mistake about it: Despite the sleek visual aesthetic, this is challenging, harsh music that requires patience and careful attention to appreciate and come to grips with. With “End of Chapter”, Au-Dessus have crafted one of the most fascinating and powerful metal records in recent memory.  Continue reading “Review: Au-Dessus – “End of Chapter””

TERRA: Interview and Album Review

That Cambridgeshire simply didn’t have any good metal bands was a sad fact I’d come to accept. When I’m not at university here in York, I live in the small cathedral-city of Ely, a short drive from the county’s namesake and hub of Cambridge. Musically, it’s an utterly desolate landscape. Friends of mine who live and study in Cambridge have confirmed as much. So when I learned that Cambridge was now the home of TERRA, an atmospheric black metal band along the lines of Wolves in the Throne Room or Ash Borer, my heart leapt. And while TERRA certainly do draw on these bands, they forge their own path on their second full-length album ‘Mors Secunda’. Continue reading “TERRA: Interview and Album Review”

Nechochwen – Heart of Akamon

I hadn’t really heard of Nechochwen when I first listened to this album. I was aware of the sort of Native American themes they focus on but otherwise I was in the dark, having basically stumbled onto this album’s page on the Nordvis Records Bandcamp. But it seemed intriguing, and any album whose tags include “black metal”, “acoustic”, and “folk rock” definitely has my attention. But this album totally blew me away.

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Mgła – Exercises in Futility

Mgła (pronounced ‘mg-wah’) are a Polish black metal band that began back in 2000. Their very first release was as part of the legendary 2005 split/compilation album ‘Crushing the Holy Trinity’ alongside Deathspell Omega, Clandestine Blaze, and others. Since then Mgła have released a steady stream of EPs, splits and full-lengths, their last release being 2012’s fantastic album ‘With Hearts Towards None’, recognised by many as one of the top black metal albums of that year. Three years on, Mgła are back with another full-length, and in my view this their best release yet, improving on all aspects of their sound.

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Interview: Sorrow Plagues

Sorrow Plagues is a one-man atmospheric black metal/blackgaze project from the UK. Having recently reviewed the new EP ‘An Eternity of Solitude’, I wanted to talk with the man behind it to delve deeper into his music. He was kind enough to speak to me about the themes explored on the EP and more! Continue reading “Interview: Sorrow Plagues”

Sorrow Plagues – An Eternity of Solitude

Much of black metal is a dreary, somber affair: dark, often self-destructive lyrical subjects and aggressive and often deliberately depressive music that doesn’t really leave much room for positivity; Not so with UK one-man black metal project Sorrow Plagues: like many recent atmospheric/post-black metal artists such as Deafheaven, Woods of Desolation, and others, Sorrow Plagues intends on challenging much of the genre’s long-held assumptions about what black metal can or should sound like.

The hazy, shoegazey atmosphere on this EP combined with the raw and  noisy production style are a very evocative combination, and under other
circumstances might have sounded totally at home in a far less extreme genre of music. Yet these mask the true feelings this music seeks to channel. It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to describe ‘An Eternity of Solitude’ as a positive album, yet the feelings it evokes are far from the often nihilistic, aggressive ones that black metal artists have traditionally sought to channel. It might be more accurate to say that An Eternity of Solitude channels feelings of hope, despair, and longing for something beyond reach. This is speculation of course, as the lyrics have not been published, but I am speaking to what the emotions this music draw out in me, and what I feel Sorrow Plagues is trying to communicate.

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Abominor – Opus Decay

Abominor are a black metal band from Reykjavík, Iceland. Formed back in 2008, this is their first release since their 2010 demo, and it left quite an impression on me. Iceland is having something of a black metal renaissance at the moment, with groups like Svartidauði, Sinmara (formerly Chao), and Misþyrming making huge waves across the metal scene over the last few years. Abominor do not entirely break with the suffocating, occult sound developed within the Icelandic scene, but they do enough to stand out that this EP is well worth a listen, particularly if you’re a fan of any of the aforementioned bands.

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