Written by Nathanas Trismegistus

Medico Peste – ב: The Black Bile; released March 20, 2020 by Season of Mist under their cringeworthy “Underground Activist” banner. Medico Peste, on the other hand, is not cringeworthy. Far from it. Their music will, however, provoke some measure of mental anguish in the listener. I’m not sure what the point of ordering their albums with letters of the Hebrew alphabet is (other than the obvious religious references). A lot of bands start out by ordering their albums with – typically – Roman numerals, but eventually discontinue the trend later in their career when they realize how pointless it is or when their musical style evolves. It is somewhat appropriate, however, in this instance as The Black Bile acts as a logical conclusion in the progression of Medico Peste albums, from their 2012 debut, א: Tremendum et Fascinatio, through to their 2017 EP, Herzogian Darkness. (I have never listened to their demo so I cannot comment.) It will certainly be interesting to see where they take their musical style next.

Medico Peste is composed, mostly, of live band members of Mgła. One member, the bassist (who certainly worked his ass off for this release), is in another excellent Polish band, Over the Voids…, which you should definitely check out. What I find puzzling is how the Metal Archives page for this band lists four different, current guitarists for Medico Peste. I’d have to get my hands on a physical copy with a booklet (assuming credits are even given) before I can confirm this, though. (And considering how crazy things are with shipping during this COVID-19 crisis, I can’t foresee securing a copy anytime in the near future.) Regardless, Medico Peste’s music bears almost no similarities with that of Mgła. Whereas Mgła deigns to flirt with beautifully-somber melodies, Medico Peste infects the listener with noxious, hideous, sickening dissonance (really appropriate for our current predicament). I would compare their style, maybe, more to the dissonant Icelandic/U.S. bands, such as Wormlust and Skaphe, or maybe even Voidcræft; but, especially, Deathspell Omega (particularly with the opening track). I tend to look at Medico Peste as Mgła’s manic-depressive, suicidal, schizophrenic little brother.

There is a notable increase in the number of musical breaks throughout this album, as opposed to their debut. Several of them are astonishingly catchy despite the progressive approach. In fact, this album is so progressive that I dare say it borders on jazz. The leap to more “progressive” elements reminds me a lot of the leap made by Craft back in 2018 with their obliquely self-aware release, White Noise and Black Metal. Most surprising of all, however, is how much emphasis is placed on the bass in this album. This might be one of those rare instances, in black metal, where the bass is incorporated very well into the musical composition. So, unsurprisingly, the composition of ב: The Black Bile is the big draw for me. The performances are all excellent. Production-wise, I have absolutely no qualms with this album. Everything sounds balanced, clear, pronounced, and amazing.

I meant to have this review up earlier; but, you know, things have been a little hectic as of late. After a couple listens, I have deemed Medico Peste’s ב: The Black Bile a worthy addition to the collection. Favorite tracks are “All Too Human”, “Numinous Catastrophy” (probably my absolute favorite), “Skin”, and the eponymous track. “Were Saviours Believers?” and “Holy Opium” were, in my opinion, the only weak tracks. I would definitely recommend this album, but (TRVE KVLT BE WARNED!) this is not your typical black metal affair. It definitely favors the progressive side of the black metal spectrum. I cannot, however, deem it essential. Though it was unconventional, lugubrious, atmospheric, and decrepit, it wasn’t mind-blowingly so. Nevertheless, if you managed to snatch up a copy before your city (or country) got locked down, definitely give it a spin. For the rest of you, it’s streaming for free on YouTube and Bandcamp. What else have you got to do? It’s a satisfying enough way to pass the time while you’re stuck under martial quarantine.

Listen/buy here: https://medicopeste.bandcamp.com/

Buy here: https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/list/medico-peste

Or here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007WZTODA/?coliid=I84MSJJUYOAJE&colid=1KC6X0JYOH5MZ&psc=1

By Nathanas Trismegistus

Cult of Fire – Moksha / Nirvana; a double dose of epic, esoteric, Czechian black metal, both released, digitally, on February 20, 2020 by Beyond Eyes. The physical copies – which, as I understand it, will be collated into a single, split double LP and CD release – won’t be disseminated until May 5 (you read that correctly), after Cult of Fire’s European tour. However, physical copies are being sold on the tour, which began in Prague on February 21. Unfortunate for those of us residing in Burgerland™ and elsewhere in the world; but, I can assure you, these records will be well worth the wait. After all, you can stream them for free on Bandcamp and on Youtube (links below).

The mad lads did it. After seven years since the release of मृत्यु का तापसी अनुध्यान (“Ascetic Meditation of Death”), Cult of Fire finally unleash a pair of full-length, ritualistic symphonies of cosmic magnitude. Not to say that the band has been indolent all those years. In the interim, they released three excellent EPs; a live album which compiled some of their best tunes; and, last year, even released an impressive single (which, unfortunately, was also sold exclusively on tour). I am pleased to say, however, that the single in question is featured (track 3 to be exact) on the Moksha portion of this release.

As I’ve stated in the past, I am a huge fan of Cult of Fire. Every single piece of media they have produced, I have thoroughly enjoyed and eagerly digested. From their debut EP, 20:11, to their most recent, untitled EP. I do consider their first album, Triumvirat, their best only because it is more genuinely “Czechian” (this was before they devoted their lyrical content and visual stylings fully to the more mystical, eastern, “Vedic” themes); possesses more variety track-for-track; and relies less on “weird”, unorthodox (to black metal) instrumentation to bolster the eccentric, stylistic shift. (I do not begrudge the stylistic shift as it is, more or less, superficial and the quality of the music, itself, has not changed much.) Perhaps I cannot, therefore, assess these new releases with any measure of objectivity. But I’m not going let that stop me.

This band does get grouped together with the likes of Batushka and Mgła, in that their musical style is very melodic and their sound production quality is all very good and “accessible”. They also all released their “definitive” or “seminal” albums around the same time (2013-2015). Despite the fact that none of these bands are really “mainstream”, neither of them are really “underground” either. Both Batushka and Mgła have broken through the substratum of metal consciousness with the former (the state of the band is, of course, disputed) signing on to Metal Blade Records and the latter, of course, touring with and given exposure by one of the most well-known extreme metal bands, Behemoth. Cult of Fire, I think, is unique amongst them as they are largely more independent – publishing their records via their own label – and their musical style is the most “elusive” (that is to say, harder to classify) being more akin to their fellow Czechian nationals, the legendary Master’s Hammer.

I will start with Moksha, which has the distinction of having song titles written in the Czech language. Replete with the awe-inspiring, trance-inducing melodies and grand, coursing progressions for which Cult of Fire are known. It is all rendered even more impressive when you consider that all the music on this album was composed by one person. This portion of the dual release seems to be a conceptual album on the teachings of one particular guru. This portion is also home to the two best songs of the whole: “Město mrtvých” and the aforementioned “(ne)Čistý”, or “(un)Clean”. The former, specifically, may just be the greatest piece the band has ever composed. It is, to put it simply, a spiritual experience.

Everything I said about Moksha, to a certain extent, can also be said about Nirvana. The song titles, however, are not in Czech, but are merely labeled “Buddha 1”, “Buddha 2”, “Buddha 3”, etcetera. I know about as much about Buddhism as I do Aghori or Baba Kinaram; which is, to say, absolutely nothing. It has something to do with the dichotomous (or dualistic) relationship of the five wisdoms (which is far too complicated to explain here) to the five toxic emotions (or “deadly sins”, if you prefer) which, I suppose, are meant to be “equalized” in order to achieve Nirvana. Such esotericisms are well beyond my knowledge or comprehension, though, so I won’t pretend like I know what’s being said in relation to this album’s message. With regards to music, however, the transition between Moksha and Nirvana is smooth and seamless, abetted, no doubt, by a tight audio mastering process. Though it does stumble in the middle, in my opinion, it ends on a redeeming, propitious high note with the enigmatic and ethereal “Buddha 5”, which is certainly my favorite track on this half of the release.

Overall, there are very few musical or instrumentational differences between Moksha and (especially the first two tracks of) Nirvana. I’m sure there are lyrical and thematic differences, but, as of right now, I couldn’t tell you what they are as the lyrics are unintelligible to me. With major chords aplenty, Nirvana does feel, marginally, more positive and uplifting and, nominally, less dark and mysterious. Regardless, I definitely prefer the Moksha side—and not just because of the more colorful artwork. It has more of that classic Cult of Fire signature sound that I adore and, I’d say (though I’ll probably regret it), it reaches a peak which the band, hitherto, had never before reached. I will say, though, despite being near perfect, in totality, the pair falls just short as both albums have tracks which, I think, are unquestionably dead on arrival. On Moksha, the stinker would definitely be track four, “Har Har Mahadev”. On Nirvana, it would be “Buddha 3” which starts with this utterly inane and repetitive lick played over a tawdry, grand piano number (it does improve as the song progresses, however). “Buddha 4” is also somewhat tiresome.

Together, the two albums clock in at just under one hour and eight minutes, which is just shy of the previously reviewed Mavorim release, Axis Mundi. And, though they, thematically, operate on a much grander scale, Moksha / Nirvana are, similarly, contenders for the best black metal album of 2020. The ultimate decision will be excruciatingly difficult. Nevertheless, these are masterful works by masters of the black craft. I cannot wait to get my hands on physical copies. When you, alas, acquire your copies, give them a spin and embrace the baleful, shrinking shadow of the Kali Yuga. Absolutely and unambiguously recommended for the discerning metalhead at any level of their initiation. Indisputably essential – and, dare I say, mandatory – listening for the underground metal aficionado.

Listen to Moksha here: https://cultoffire.bandcamp.com/album/moksha

Listen to Nirvana here: https://cultoffire.bandcamp.com/album/nirvana

Buy here (when available): https://beyondeyesshop.com/

By Nathanas Trismegistus

The True Werwolf – Devil Crisis; released February 28, 2020 by Werwolf’s own Werewolf Records. For those of you who don’t know, Werwolf, the mind behind the prestigious band (and personal favorite of mine), Satanic Warmaster, is involved in a plenitude of black metal-related projects including the venerable Horna and the classic Finnish band Pest. The True Werwolf is Werwolf’s BDSM black metal side project with occasional ambient synth elements (not to be confused with SW’s symphonic elements). This is not Werwolf’s only side project, mind you. He has another band called Orlok which you should definitely check out. Apparently, a second Orlok album is in the works, so, look out for that. But, I digress. The True Werwolf has been around for some time—since 2002. Under the True Werwolf banner, many demos were produced, but none were ever released to the public until 2007, in a compilation. And, in the intervening thirteen years, he never produced a proper, studio, full-length album. Sure there were plenty of demo compilations (three to be exact), EPs (six to be exact), and splits (three to be exact), but what this effectively means is that Devil Crisis is The True Werwolf’s “debut”. Are you keeping up? I hope so. Because I’m not done. There are seven tracks on this album (it does clock in at over 44 minutes, though). Two of them (tracks 4 and 5) were featured in the 2013 EP, “C.N.N. / 0373”. The opening track, “My Journeys Under the Battlemoon”, was featured in the EP, “Battlemoon”, which was released all the way back in 2011. Which means – if you’re keeping up – that only four of the seven songs on this album were originally written for Devil Crisis. In the description field of The True Werwolf’s Devil Crisis Bandcamp page (which will be linked below) it states that this album was “in the works for over six years”. Now I ask you, why did it take six years to write and record four songs? I thought I was slow. Damn.

This album’s existence was hinted at by Werwolf numerous times in various interviews. And those hints were so underemphasized and spread across several years, I would completely understand if you weren’t even aware of the fact that this album was just on the horizon. Very little attention was drawn to it. It was very understated and subtle. Very little in the way of fanfare, that’s for sure. And it was probably very wise of Werwolf to approach the release of Devil Crisis in that way. Expectations might be tempered, and any potential disappointment might be mitigated. Consequently, the question I have is not “was this album worth the wait?” But rather, “does this album reflect six years of work?” And the answer, as you could probably guess, is no. This album really feels like scraps of a Satanic Warmaster album (good scraps, though, that probably shouldn’t have been left to waste on the cutting room floor) awkwardly smashed together in a compilation with old, remastered or rerecorded TTW tunes. When you listen to this album, you really get the sense that this is not a cohesive whole, but rather a Frankenstein’s monster, pastiche of grafted limbs of varying stages of decomposition haphazardly stitched together.

Some might be tempted to describe The True Werwolf’s musical style by comparing and contrasting it to that of Satanic Warmaster’s. Some would say that it’s distinct. But it’s not that distinct. Other than the occasional audio samples (I couldn’t wager a guess as to where they’re from) and filthy old 80’s synth, most of these songs – particularly the first three – would fit perfectly in a Satanic Warmaster album. Many of the melodies found herein are very reminiscent of SW. Where it really diverges is with tracks like “0373” which is definitely the black sheep of the album. I know it’s a reference to some obscure Japanese animated show from the ‘80s (reinforcing the rumor that Werwolf is, in fact, a closet weeb). But, in the end, I’m not surprised by its inherent uniqueness because, again, I’ve heard it before in the aforementioned “C.N.N. / 0373” EP. In reality, though, the most “peculiar” track would definitely be the last; a mercifully short black/thrash/punk abomination known as “Magick Fire”. The cough at the end did make me chuckle, though.

What I can say, for certain, is that this album is an exemplary, albeit somewhat unbalanced and flawed, black metal album. What I cannot say, with any degree of certainty, is that I enjoyed it more than, for instance, Satanic Warmaster’s Fimbulwinter. Really, there’s probably nothing that Werwolf could ever release that I would hate (that is, unless he decided to release a Soundcloud mumble rap album). Best tracks are 1, 2, 3, and 6. While I thoroughly enjoyed “Chi No Namida”, I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time I listened to it—seven years ago. Recommended and essential listening for the “trvest” of Werwolf fans. Anyone else probably wouldn’t get it.

Listen/buy here: https://werewolfrecords.bandcamp.com/album/devil-crisis

By Nathanas Trismegistus

Necrobode – Sob o Feitiço do Necrobode (translates to “Under the Spell of the Goat Corpse”); released February 21, 2020 by Iron Bonehead Productions. Portugal, it seems, is trying to make a name for itself by distinguishing itself from the decidedly more popular Spanish black/death or bestial black metal scene. To forge its own path, so to speak. As is the case with this newcomer. Unfortunately, I do not believe they succeeded in their endeavor.

This is the band’s debut, although, I had listened to – and actually own a copy of – their demo, Metal Negro da Morte, which had more of that raw, aggressive energy and tone one would expect from such a band. It was, incidentally, also about the same length as this release. Sob o Feitiço do Necrobode is definitely more polished, strictly in terms of production, than their demo, which, in this case, unfortunately, does them no favors in this regard as the simplicity of their music and songwriting is laid bare for all to witness. It’s not that I expect complexity or intricacy from a bestial black metal band, but, in a genre as rampantly scaturient (and interminably expanding it seems) as this, you really need something to differentiate from the extensive list of near-identical bands. Trajeto de Cabra’s (despite the Portuguese name, the band is actually Canadian) forgettable release suffered the same fate last year, I think. Competition is fierce and you either leave an impression or join the countless forgotten bands in immemorial obsolescence.

 As I briefly mentioned, the songwriting is extremely basic. Common time (4/4) blast beats incessantly hammering away with bland, down-tuned, single-note, chromatic meanderings played over top. The bass is, of course, present and audible, adequately punching its way through the mix. The riffs do deign to, occasionally, enrapture the listener (as the title suggests), but not enough to justify the album as a whole. You will be tempted to nod along with head-bangers like tracks 1, 2, 6, 7, and 9 (which is admirable in a pathetic sort of way). Track 10 does end the album nicely with an ominous, monkish chant.

Overall, though I consider it a bit harsh for this album, Sob o Feitiço do Necrobode was just sort of mediocre. It was not terrible. It did not offend me. It did not anger me. I can’t even say that I’m ambivalent towards it. I feel nothing. It provoked little to no response from me. It’s a short release, so you won’t be wasting too much of your time by listening to it. It was certainly a valiant effort, but, if you’re looking to satisfy that bestial filth hunger, I would actually recommend you skip this one and go track down a copy of their demo. It’s more worthy of your time and money. Obviously, not essential.

Listen/buy here: https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com/album/necrobode-sob-o-feiti-o-do-necrobode

By Nathanas Trismegistus

Faustian Pact – Outojen tornien varjoissa (translates to “In the Shadow of Strange Towers”); released February 14, 2020 by Werewolf Records. Evidently, Werewolf Records (a Finnish record label) and Hells Headbangers Records (a US record label and webshop) have some sort of special arrangement where the latter is the exclusive US distributor of the former; which is auspicious for me as I can easily acquire these obscure Finnish releases without having to get them imported. So, this is one of those rare instances where I actually already had the physical release of the album, in my hands, before listening to it and reviewing it. And I’ve really got to say, the physical CD – its presentation – is all rather stunning. The layout of the booklet is really nice with its golden text and ostentatious bordering. The color pallet, of blood reds and royal blues (which collide into a deep, blackish purple) and gold flourishes is all spectacular. Good job, Werewolf Records.

To start off, I know absolutely nothing about this band. The description on their Bandcamp states that they are “one of Finnish black metal’s best-kept secrets”, and I really can’t argue with that. They released a trio of demos some years ago. And, like cicadas, they dug themselves back into the loam of obscurity, only to emerge a decade later. I heard somewhere that Faustian Pact’s gimmick is their original lore or mythos, which is continuously being told and expanded upon via their musical works. Of course, the lyrics are entirely in Finnish. So, in spite of my, admittedly, limited Finnish lexicon (purely from listening to so much Finnish black metal), understanding exactly what is going on in this narrative is difficult. Regardless, I don’t critique literature here. I critique music.

As those of you who have read my “Black Metal 2019: Year in Review” article probably remember, I was not particularly fond of Vargrav’s most recent effort. Faustian Pact’s music is somewhat similar to Vargrav’s (I see V-Khaoz had some hand in the production of this album) and, by extension, Satanic Warmaster’s (yes, I will be reviewing The True Werwolf’s debut when it finally drops and I can’t wait). In this instance, though, the symphonic elements are more subdued. It may simply be because they are lower in the mix, but I think they are far less obtrusive and far less obnoxious. Faustian Pact come much closer to the delicate balance adeptly struck with Satanic Warmaster. However, Faustian Pact bring a whole new, unstable dimension to the symphonic black metal equation: female vocals. They’re not even constant. They don’t even appear in every song. But every time they showed up on a track, I had to seriously wonder whether or not I had accidentally put on a Cher album (especially on track 3). It was weird. There are a lot of other weird vocal elements, such as the dictated segments (which sounded way too dynamic and energetic to be Finnish) and the weird choral backing in track 10, but the female vocals stood out the most to me.

Every track has something new to offer. Not musically, though. Not even stylistically. Purely in terms of instrumental arrangement and sound layering, this album, and this band, will keep you on your toes. You won’t see what’s coming next. The level of compositional originality on display here is really quite refreshing, despite the odd reliance on synthesized flutes. If one were to analyze each component individually, one would find that the guitars and the drums really aren’t all that special. The simple, lackluster melodies often just repeat over and over. The drums really fail to deviate from the mélange of constant blast beats. If this album was envisioned or recorded purely as a conventional black metal album, it would probably just fall apart. Together, though, all of these components create a vivacious, mystical energy to ensnare and bewitch the listener. To use a phrase which hack music critics abuse when describing that which they fail to fully comprehend, this album is more than the sum of its parts.

It’s a nearly 45-minute jaunt through a charming, fantastical landscape; and it somehow feels like a third of its actual length. I had thought that Werewolf Records had really struck out last year with its album releases. Of course, I still think that; but, if this album is any indication of a trend, my opinion of them as a label may yet be swayed back into the realm of favorability. It’s a great start to the year. I thoroughly enjoyed Faustian Pact’s debut. I would almost suggest you go into listening to this record completely blind—with no expectations (even though this is the closing paragraph). No shortage of surprises to be found here. Spin this during your next quest in D&D. Recommended, but not essential.

Listen/buy here: https://werewolfrecords.bandcamp.com/album/outojen-tornien-varjoissa

By Nathanas Trismegistus

Serpent Noir – Death Clan OD; released February 2, 2020 by World Terror Committee. As I’ve mentioned many times before, you can expect two things from any W. T. C. release: that it is occult black metal (or an Absurd or G. B. K. rerelease, seriously, how do they get away with that living in Germany?) and that it will be excruciatingly difficult, or will take an exorbitant amount of time, to obtain a copy in the U. S.

I’m not really sure what the “OD” in the title is supposed to represent. Perhaps “Ordo Diaboli”? I don’t know. Regardless, Serpent Noir is a trio hailing from Athens, the resplendent capital of Greece. Though, not of the spiritual successors to classic Hellenic black metal (e.g., the previously-recognized on this glorified blog, Empire of the Moon). Like their fellow Athenians, Acherontas and Acrimonious (both great bands I suggest you check out immediately), Serpent Noir create music more analogous to the Swedish and, more modern, Greek occult scene than the likes of Necromantia or Rotting Christ. But, they’re far from your typical occult black metal. Their approach is, in a word, lateral. Though their music is full of arpeggiated, dissonant chords; trem-picked, Phrygian melodies; somber, Apollonian leads; and aggressive double blast beats—the way they implement these components is incredibly fascinating, unique, and creative. Their lyrical content is also subject for an entirely different conversation.

Personally, I thought the opener was a waste of effort. A very simple “anti-melody” played over a broken suspended chord. Track 2, “Cutting the Umbilical Cord of Hel”, however, is really where the album kicks off into volcanic fury. Track 3 has a nice, classic feel towards the beginning, which gradually devolves into a sinister, serpentine Gordian knot of complexity. Track 4, “Asmodeus: The Sword of Golachab”, while an interesting name and subject matter, I thought it was the weakest track. It has a strange break close to the end which stopped the momentum (of the song, not the album) dead in its tracks. Unfortunate. Track 5, “Astaroth: The Jaws of Gha’Agsheblah”, has an inimitably creepy tone which one must behold to believe. Track 6, “Necrobiological Chant of Talas”, also had an interesting tone and phenomenal leadwork. The final track, “GOEH RA REAH: Garm Unchained” is probably the best, most varied song on the album; though, I think track 6 is my favorite. It got its very own, insane music video which gave me some serious O9A vibes. The album is decidedly brisk, but not so short that you’ll feel like you’ve been robbed of the $12 street price. I thought it was very well paced except, maybe, the aforementioned track 4.

I don’t want to get hung up on production quality, so I’ll only say, briefly, that it sounded fine, if not – at times – a bit shallow, thin, and dry (at least on the digital, Bandcamp format I heard). Everything sounded good and was clear and audible, so no real complaints.

This album is the music of the sacrificial blood slowly filling the channels of an altar of impossible geometrical parameters. I’ll just have to add this to the copious backlog of good W. T. C. releases that I have yet to obtain. I had listened to their previous album, Erotomysticism (2015) and I’m pretty sure I caught a track or two off their 2012 debut. From what I can remember, I did like them, but not enough to buy them. Death Clan OD, on the other hand, I will definitely buy when I see it hit U. S. record stores. I’m not so enthusiastic about this album that I would go straight ahead and order a copy and have it imported straight from Germany.  It’s better than average occult black metal. Though that may seem like faint praise, Serpent Noir indelibly stand with their heads high above a sea of monotony. I still, nevertheless, think Acherontas remains as the exemplar for this sub-sub-genre (and Greece’s contribution to it). I would recommend it, purely for its originality, to anyone; but, perhaps, wouldn’t deem it essential to anyone save the rabid hordes of occult black metal.

Listen, buy here: https://wtcproductions.bandcamp.com/album/death-clan-od

By Nathanas Trismegistus

Mavorim – Axis Mundi; released January 31, 2020 by Purity Through Fire, a top-brass, German label. Every band they have signed is killer. Every album that P. T. F. has published, that I’ve listened to, has been spectacular. No mundanity nor mediocrity in sight. The same goes for Mavorim. Every single piece of media, whether it be their split with Totenwache (a band which I’ve criticized before for its lack of originality); their 2018 debut, Silent Leges Inter Arma; or their comically long (almost 55 minutes) 2019 EP, Aasfresser (seriously, what is with German bands making full, LP-length EPs, Katharsis did the same thing in 2009 with their excellent Fourth Reich). In fact, I’m convinced that Mavorim is not a band. It is a machine. A well-oiled German machine which produces nothing but pure, unadulterated gold. Seriously, they’ve been pumping out high-quality material, consistently, since their formation in 2014. If none of their content has ever crossed your path, stop reading this and go Google them. Their Bandcamp will be linked below. You will not be disappointed. And if you are, then we can’t be friends. Be gone from my website! Go on. SHOO!

Heavily inspired by the Tyrants of Black Metal, Mavorim create good, old-fashioned, mid-paced, melodic, pagan black metal with the occasional folkish ambient and balladic Volksmusik numbers. They definitely lean closer to the black metal side than the RAC side, despite the scant clean vocals. Since Absurd hasn’t released a proper album since 2005, if you’re looking for something to sate that Thuringian pagan hunger, then you need look no further than Mavorim. Since there isn’t anything overtly – shall we say – NS, about this band or its lyrics (debatably with track titles like “Die Ufer von Thule” and “Hyperborea”), some may look at Mavorim as merely a toothless, domesticated, watered-down imitation of Absurd. I guess I can kind of see where they’re coming from. The production quality on this release is extremely (and, again, unnecessarily) high-fidelity (they’re older material is decidedly rawer, though). The end product is well-polished, any rough edges are all thoroughly sanded down. Personally, I don’t think they engage in utter Absurd worship. The musical similarities, or “echoes”, are clearly there, but I don’t think Mavorim are trying to hide their influences. They’re not trying to deceive anyone, and I think that’s commendable. Still, I think their musical style and approach are different enough. Are they a mere, politically acceptable, mainstream-friendly, Absurd alternative? Perhaps. There does appear to be a todesrune in their logo, though. So, I don’t know.

The riffcraft of the guitars in Axis Mundi strikes an elegant balance between dissonance and consonance. There are some unnerving melodies and harmonies sprinkled here and there, but the preponderance of melodies is of a decidedly triumphant, diatonic nature, typical of pagan-oriented black metal. The drums perfectly realize their function to set the pace and drive the momentum of the song. The drumwork isn’t so unique that it captures or distracts the listener throughout the experience. It’s just very well integrated and fulfills its purpose. In the first half of at least, the instruments all complement each other and work, in perfect concert, to build up acceleration towards a culmination not unlike a stampeding sonic calvary charge. This compositional synergy functions to imbue the listener with adamantine determination and devastating, berserker rage. The album definitely slows down in the second half, though, and emphasizes the clean vocals, not that I’m, by any means, displeased. It does sort of impede the flow of the album in totality. It’s like a running a race at a break-neck pace only to stop right at the end and crawl across the finish line. Not really an issue, it just sort of stuck out to me. It doesn’t help that track 12 is merely a continuation of track 4 and repeats the exact same melody and structure (if I had any legitimate complaints, it would be this). Late in the album is, however, also where you get some of the really interesting and uniquely eerie ambient sections, like track 11. I almost wish Mavorim would release a separate, entirely ambient, Burzum-esque full-length album that I could play whilst traversing the foggy, soggy lowlands at dawn. Strangely, the last (bonus) track, 13, is a cover of a Minenwerfer track from an album which only just came out last year. Don’t bands typically cover classic songs from classic bands? Really breaking the mold there.

Blood is life! Blood is the axis of the world. Blood is what makes the world go ‘round. Mavorim is my new religion. Their latest effort, Axis Mundi, is a meisterwerk of hasserfüllt, anti-leben, anti-modern mordkraft. It is a long one (clocking in at almost 1 hour, 7 minutes), so get comfortable. I’ve endured the entirety of Altar of Perversion’s Intra Naos (which is torturously spread across three LPs) twice, so length is no issue for me. Favorite songs? I refuse to tell you. You should discover your own by listening to the whole album. Mavorim is one of the best bands to emerge from this generation of black metal (there are quite a few). With neither question nor reservation, I would absolutely recommend this album to underground aficionado. Essential, mandatory listening to the tyrants of tomorrow.

Listen and buy here: https://mavorim.bandcamp.com/

By Nathanas Trismegistus

Wilczyca’s self-titled debut; released February 2, 2020 by Godz Ov War Productions. Naturally, being from an obscure, European label, this album will likely take some time to acquire. But, I’ll never let that stop me from shambling together a terrible, half-assed review.

And out of the naked blue comes this Polish two-piece black metal monstrosity. First off, fuck you and your unpronounceable language, Poland. There’s just too goddamn many adjacent consonants that I couldn’t guess how any of your words or names are pronounced. Second off, Poland is a beautiful country with a beautiful culture – staunchly Christian conservative – and there is a small subset of underground enthusiasts who have decided, “fuck all that shit, let’s make some blasphemous black metal.” It is my understanding that Poland’s black metal scene is a very understated, small, and (probably) very tight-knit circle of personae non gratae. Of course, Behemoth, a prominent metal band signed to a prominent metal label, is from Poland and they got their start by playing pagan black metal. And, of course, fans of black metal are no doubt familiar with Mgla and Batushka. And Graveland is, of course, infamous. But few people – at least with whom I am acquainted – are familiar with bands like Arkona, Czort, North, and Plaga; excellent bands which are criminally underrated or simply forgotten. (Fuck Besatt.) Even fewer people are familiar with Wilczyca. In fact, I know absolutely nothing about this band beyond their name and their one and only (studio?) release, which is a fantastic position to be in for anyone trying to uphold the “trve kvlt” tradition of mystery and isolation. They’ve probably had a demo (or is this the demo?) or two floating about the Polish underground scene, but it’s never crossed my path.

The production quality on Wilczyca is ore raw. It’s cold, abrasive, and absolutely sickening. The drums are perfectly sculpted for that muffled, dirty mattress sound for which black metal is famous. I’d dare say the bass drum mics were placed so low on the ground that they had to dig up holes in the studio’s basement just to position them. Every drum hit is granite hard. Every kick drum’s pound feels like a punch to the gut and every snare slam feels like a slap to the temple. The vocals, a phlegmy, throaty agonal rasp – laboriously scrape their way into the mix the way someone who was buried alive desperately claws their way to freedom. The bass, as usual, farts in the background.

As far as their music is concerned, I would compare Wilczyca most to the aforementioned Plaga. There are some weird, off-putting harmonies interrupted by the occasional warped, arpeggiated chords, each lending to the oppressive, melancholic atmosphere. The drums are played with an arrogant and aggressive strut throughout the album. Really infectious, high-energy style. I like it. However, this band does eventually succumb to the temptation of mindless repetition of blast beats and traditional tremolo-picked melodies, which is unfortunate.

As far as I’m concerned, the track 1, “Na Przeklętej Ziemi”, is just wasted space. I guess it sets the tone of the album well enough, but it doesn’t add much. There were a couple tracks, “Ego Memini Inferno” and “Przyjdź” (2 and 6, respectively), released in the last couple of months to promote the album’s release. Naturally, these were the best songs on the album. Track 3, the eponymous track to the eponymous album, is also good—has a good old-school vibe. I swear, though. Tracks 2, 3, and 5 sound like they belong on a different album than the rest. There really are two, distinct voices here vying for dominance. Track 4, “Burza”, as well as tracks 1, 6, and 7 are all instrumentals, which are always risky because of how – potentially – boring they are; and, for a seven-song album, that’s a lot of instrumentals. Track 7, “Proch”, just sounds like they dipped their patch cables in dogshit and let their cat run amok across their synth pad. What an awful way to end an otherwise respectable effort. What were they thinking?

Overall, I genuinely liked Wilczyca’s debut album and will probably listen to it again (I’ve listened to it three times now). It’s a nasty, vicious, yet succinct jaunt through ancient catacombs. (Does Poland have catacombs?) As for a recommendation, I think it’s purely a numbers game. If we were to enumerate the positives and negatives, side by side, in a list, I think the positives would genuinely outnumber the negatives. Fans of Plaga and old Mgla will probably like it. Definitely worth a listen. Not essential, though.

Stream it here: http://www.musickmagazine.pl/archiwa/7035?fbclid=IwAR1-B3yUkGMRQPUYAhJryyaw_WgsHkP4gI8gO_dF8j2Y-1tnq21wSo60STk

Buy it here: http://godzovwar.com/shop/en/pre-orders/2471-wilczyca-wilczyca.html?search_query=wilczyca&results=4

Or here: https://godzovwarproductions.bandcamp.com/album/wilczyca

By Nathanas Trismegistus

M8l8th (or Moloth) released (what they call) an experimental, single under the “label” (?) – or, possibly, “media download site” – Heretic Camp. One has to wonder if the goal of this site is to be the dissident equivalent of Bandcamp for bands or artists too extreme for mainstream music distribution sites. I’m sure I’ll receive some flak for even acknowledging this group’s existence. Alexei Levkin, the band’s frontman, is a very controversial figure (understatement of the millennium). It was just one really crazy night, though. Sure, there were some murders – maybe some war crimes. But, I mean, who hasn’t been there? Am I right? Regardless, this being a brief release, you can expect a brief review.

As always, with regards to M8l8th’s music, the weakest link – I think – is Alexei’s vocals. Here they are layered with a down-pitched, croaky filter which, I think, does the job of contributing to the bellicose, militant (yet, in a sense, Apollonian) atmosphere associated with M8l8th. Whoever does the backing, male vocals for M8l8th knocked it out of the park, as always. There are also female vocals – a first for M8l8th – which are pleasant and operatic. The most, obvious difference with this single is the style. M8l8th’s typical affair is Absurd-influenced, Graveland- and Nokturnal Mortum-esque, melody-heavy black metal – except with genuinely (and unnecessarily) good production quality – with atonal, vaguely Slavic hip-hop-styled vocals contrasted with the aforementioned diatonic operatic backing vocals and occasional audio samples of simulated medieval combat. Here, M8l8th have thrown all of that out the fucking window (except the backing vocals). “Onslaught” can be approximately described as industrial, electronic NS retro synth-wave (which I will, here, deem “Fashwave”) not unlike DJ Himmler, which is far beyond my musical comfort zone. And, consequently, I don’t know if I’m qualified to critique it. If you watch the music video, you will probably notice – between the footage stolen from Lord of the Rings, Kingdom of Heaven, Troy (I think that’s Brad Pitt on the right at 4:09), and various other films – the distinct, retro-80’s neon aesthetic. It’s kind of at odds with the more classical themes and aesthetics as well as the gritty, obscurantist kvlt atmospheres also presented in the video. It’s also tired and overplayed. That being said, synth-wave is probably a more marketable sound than black metal, so I can see a lot of people, who don’t know who M8l8th is, becoming beguiled by this new strategy. The music is good, it just doesn’t appeal to me.

I’m sure long-standing fans of M8l8th (and black metal in general) will hate it. It is different. Very different. M8l8th called it “experimental” and, to my surprise, they weren’t lying. I don’t know why they chose this approach. Is it an attempt to broaden the appeal of the band’s music (and, by extension, ideology)? Perhaps. I must say, though. Despite this not being my cup of tea, there is something oddly hypnotic about it – something inspiring. Not recommended for anyone seeking political office. Essential if you wish to awaken the Übermensch in you.