Úlfur – Arborescence

No genre has experienced a more distinct shift in its cultural purpose than classical music. What was once the sole form of musical expression in Western culture has been largely relegated to specific roles in society. Modern classical certainly hasn’t lost any of its esteem, but in terms of popular…

Hey! Listen to Havukruunu!

Havukruunu have masterminded one of the most well-crafted albums released this year — black metal or otherwise. Kelle surut soi blends the encompassing and hypnotic atmospheres of atmoblack with the aggression of straight-up black metal, spiced with the exuberance and creativity of folk black to marry it all together. This…

Kvlt Kolvmn // October 2017

Happy Halloween, 2017, from your nefarious friends at Kvlt Kolvmn! Hard to imagine a better day for this column to land near, what with all the ghouls, spirits, demogorgons and Eleven’s traipsing around with their sugar receptacles and real world terror encroaching from every corner of this planet. God, what a miserable year in so many ways. Thankfully, that misery has not extended into the world of black metal, which continues to drop sensational releases month after month. October is no exception. This month saw the release of several exceptional albums that not only continued to solidify the importance of black metal’s existence as one of the premier subgenres within the metal universe, but also its ability to offer complex, fierce statement of countercultural urgency. That last component is important for one particular album that screams thoroughly against some of the prevailing philosophical dogma that runs rampant in the darkest corners of the subgenre. Despite the most truly reprehensible portions of its collective ranks, black metal can indeed speak the language of justice. But enough talk. Let’s metal.

Yellow Eyes – Immersion Trench Reverie

Yellow Eyes came to the metal world’s collective attention primarily through their outstanding third album Sick With Bloom. With this release, the band sought to meld the cold, overwhelmingly bleak stylistic tropes of the second wave of black metal with a pastoral, naturalistic aesthetic and succeeded in damn near every…

Der Weg einer Freiheit – Finisterre

Germany is a stunning country. From the odd, historically juxtaposed vistas of Berlin, to the mist-covered streets of Hamburg, or the lush solitude of Burgstadt, it is a beautiful tapestry of rich and horrifying history, amazing beer, and incredible architecture. With such a fantastic backdrop it is somewhat surprising, unfortunately, that Germany is not particularly known for its homegrown metal scene. While the country is not without its fair share of well-known bands of the heavy variety (Kreator, Rammstein, Caliban, and The Ruins of Beverast to name a few), the nation’s black metal scene has never been an especially notable one. Der Weg einer Freiheit (DWEF from here on out) set out to change that with their own distinct flavor of post-/atmoblack, flying surprisingly mostly under the radar as their first few records received marginal amounts of buzz. However, in 2014 their third full-length album, Stellar, made waves in the scene with an absolutely stunning assault of black metal ambition that landed them on many a metal year-end list (including that of yours truly). It was a panoramic, emotionally invigorating record that catapulted the band’s already solid reputation into the stratosphere. With the release of their fourth record¸ this year’s Finisterre, the band are posed with the challenge of following up their best record with something equally impactful. On every count, they have succeeded. If you have been sleeping on this band, awake. We are witnessing the rise of a group that is sure to become the bedrock of German metal for years to come.

Cormorant – Diaspora

Sometimes you put on a record and the music cascading into your head gives you a jolt straight up your spine. That opening salvo is everything you want, pushing all the right buttons and getting your blood pumping, your heart racing, and your mind zeroed in on nothing but the music. Pure, unadulterated sound that fills you with elation, an exuberance you can barely contain. I have been overcome by this sensation many times as a music listener. It’s that uncommon state of absolute and unashamed excitement for what comes next. Unfortunately, what actually comes next doesn’t always live up to that initial rush, either by sheer sugar rush effect or simply because the remaining tracks on the album aren’t up to the standards set by the opening track. What it comes down to is that many albums are good, but few are great. It is a truth that music lovers have to accept every time that damned opening track teases us into blind, all-encompassing hope that the rest of the album will live up to the soaring heights of those first few, precious moments. Cormorant’s new album Diaspora gave me this feeling I just described. But in those first few incredible moments, I couldn’t help wondering whether this reaction would persist. What resulted over the next hour was a thoroughly remarkable journey that I have relived and revisited many times since then. TL;DR: This album is profoundly good.