There must be something in the air of late – darkness and gloom is permeating the world of rock and roll in a more obvious manner these last few months and it’s in bands such as Soror Dolorosa, Beastmilk and Vaura that this melancholy resonates. It’s almost pertinent to note that all of those acts have a history with much more extreme genres of music but all have, for some reason, wandered over to the side of sadness and embraced the cold, dark waves of modern goth. Vaura have, among their ranks, a member of Gorguts (Kevin Hufnagel – guitar), Toby Driver of Kayo Dot (bass) and they are lead by the ever busy Joshua Strawn (Blacklist, Religious to Damn – vocals, guitar) along with drummer Charlie Schmid (also ex-Religious to Damn); it’s clear, though, that despite their backgrounds, all four musicians share a love for the sounds of the gothic movement.
From the sunny sub-tropical beaches of Northern Queensland, Australia, comes the wintry atmospheric black metal of one man band Afterwalker, although black metal is really a loose term in this case. A good portion of this self-titled release’s half hour run time is given over to hammering blast beats, tremolo picked chords and harsh shrieks, but this music actually has way more in common with the work of classical composer Phillip Glass and the sonic haze of shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine than it does with any metal bands – which isn’t surprising as the man behind this project is D.P. Pearce, also responsible for the one-man dreamy shoegaze project Kigo.
While there has been a proliferation of shoegaze-inspired black metal bands cropping up in the past few years, most notable of which is probably Deafheaven, this music isn’t really anything like that either.
Welcome to Bay Area, where the sun shines and destruction crawls, endlessly. Lurking somewhere in the East Bay, the mysterious black metal horde known as XENOTAPH have managed to craft a demo so grand and timeless that it’s almost impossible to believe it’s the work of four young dudes hailing from the sunny banks of the east San Francisco Bay. These four caustic and suffocating blasts of necrotic black metal that the band have crafted under the form of Vitae Iactura sound like something coming straight from the icy and desolate plains of the Norwegian tundra plunged into and endless and demonic winter rather than tunes made by a bunch of Californians.
Arnaut Pavle come crawling out of the frozen northern wastes of Finland to encapsulate everything great about raw old school black metal. Named for a legendary eighteenth century Serbian ‘vampire’ supposedly responsible for a plague of mysterious deaths that decimated his village, Arnaut Pavle sound like exactly that. No modern twinkly teen star shit, nor even the classic Bram Stoker eternal lover; no, Arnaut Pavle sound like a wretched strung out blood junkie forest hermit, a leprous shell of a human that’s been living off the blood of icy corpses and rodents for nigh on three hundred years.
This music is not pretty, it’s rabid and intense and as catchy as a vampire bite. An impossibly icy arctic production vomits up chainsaw guitars that peel off tremolo riffs and surprisingly melodic leads like layers of rotted skin, crashing drums tear through rocking punk inspired rhythms and the vocals screech and croak in hoarse splendour.
Black metal and mystique often go hand in hand. Little is known of Irish black metal entity Dúnmharú, the duo of Ross O’Connor and Cathal Hughes. Last year’s Curses Come Home record did a good job introducing Dúnmharú to us, but with a new album coming out shortly entitled Frozen Eden, the band seem poised to leave a mark in Irish black; no easy task when the likes of Slidhr have put out records this year.
Today we’re pleased to present two tracks from Dúnmharú’s Frozen Eden – the massive album opener ‘Dead Eyes Mirror’ and the melodic black metal riffing melee of ‘Passion to Burn’. The album will be released on CD at some point in the coming weeks.
You better get on your knees, the apocalypse is coming and its four horsemen are Dreadlords. This group of ritualistic racket-makers summon up an unholy concoction of apocalyptic blues, Satanic southern gospel and shamanic sacrilege. This blasphemous demo tape sounds like the sonic incarnation of a Flannery O’Connor short story or Cormac McCarthy novel – back before he started winning literary prestige awards and was still writing twisted Southern bloodbaths about incest, scalping and backwoods violence.
Guitars and piano clang and crash in a free form fall through a cathedral-sized chamber of reverb, while Dreadlords’ singer rants and raves like a schizophrenic madman at the pulpit, veering from Nick Cave-style blues sermonizing (once again, think less his later dad-rock, Kylie Minogue duet-ing phase and more his spastic early years) to black metal-esque croaking and snarling, and even the occasional haunting howl of a werewolf in full moon fever.
Photos: Derek Carr
If you weren’t at Vancouver’s Astoria on Saturday, Oct. 26, you missed your ONE chance to see Wolvserpent!!
…But don’t cry about it because they didn’t show up. Those border dicks were DICKS. I mean, I love a man in uniform. Unless he’s a pig.
For anyone who doesn’t know, the creative geniuses behind CVLT Nation, Meghan and Sean, just moved to Vancouver. Nothing is Heavy & CVLT Nation Present Wolvserpent & Guests was their second event in Van City — and the first time we got to stalk them up close. ALSO: it was Halloween, motherfuckers. Well, practically.
I honestly do not know what is going on in this small and seemingly peaceful country called Iceland. Iceland has given us big names within the black metal scene – we can highlight names like Svartidaudi and Wormlust. There is also a very interesting array of bands there that follow the same path, such as Chao, Azoic, Vansköpun, Dynfari and Kontinuum just to name a few. All of these bands have above average talent and a very characteristic kind of sound, so much “their own” that they could almost certify it with a “Made in Iceland” stamp. From Iceland comes one of the most spectacular albums I have had the privilege to hear this year, brought by the hands of the, until now, unknown band Carpe Noctem.
WOLVSERPENT created a very special album this year called Perigea Antahkarana, out now on Relapse Records, and every minute of this record is a looking glass into another dimension. Live, the band are able to totally expand the dark majestic qualities of their sound into a whole other sonic universe. Our comrade in video Kevin Hobbs captured WOLVSERPENT’s most recent show in the Bay Area, and after watching the footage you will see that words almost can not describe how good this band is! If WOLVSERPENT is coming to your town, you better not miss them, because their live show is a ritual that you must experience!
Pairing two bands together for a split should be thoughtful and while there’s intrigue in seeing two totally different bands mashed together for a split and have the dichotomy displayed and examined, more often than not the best splits are when bands share a sonic and thematic camaraderie. This is very much the case with Amiensus and Oak Pantheon, both hailing from Minnesota too as a matter of fact.