Well, third time’s a charm, I guess—this here is the third consecutive installment of Kvlt Kolvmn Take Two, a monthly round-up of my favorite BM releases from the past 30-ish days. The only reason I’m surprised I could fill the column out this month is because of relatively little time I spent with black metal this month; there was just way too much incredible music coming out from virtually every other genre (seriously, if you haven’t yet, take a read through this month’s Editors’ Picks). Still, the black metal I did listen to was some of the best I’ve heard so far this year, with one album currently in the running for my BM AOTY. So without further ado, let’s dive in:
Black Cilice – Banished from Time (Portugal)
As with a few of the artists I’ve recommended thus far, Black Cilice already received high praise from me via an HLT I wrote a couple years ago. But as much as I loved Mysteries, everything about Banished from Time feels like an even more grim improvement. This entirely anonymous group/person has shrouded both themselves and their music with a mysterious cloak, as their latest effort as Black Cilice concocts a cauldron of atmospheric, depressive and raw black metal for an album that feels overwhelming in both a blissful and treacherous manner. The album’s allure lies in its internal conflict that sounds like melancholic melodies lightly penetrating through endless snow.
Cloak Of Altering – I Reached For The Light That Drowned In Your Mouth (Netherlands)
This is the first of two albums I enjoyed from Maurice de Jong this month, an extremely talented and metal renaissance man that—as far as I can tell—composes, performs and records all of his work under the names Cloak of Altering, De Magia Veterum, Gnaw their Tongues and more. I’ve heard of CoA many times before but never took thew time to listen to a full project, a mistake a rectified with the excellent I Reached For The Light That Drowned In Your Mouth. While certainly rooted in the realm of avant-garde black metal, de Jong’s writing on the album will likely appeal to more traditional fans of the genre as well. His riffing is creative and bounces around elements of noise, drone and electronic flourishes.
De Magia Veterum – Naked Swords Into The Wombs Of The Enemy (Netherlands)
So this album actually came out a month ago, but since I discovered it this month and it’s absolutely phenomenal, I decided it was more than deserving of a slot. If you haven’t already forgotten from the blurb right above this one, De Magia Veterum is another de Jong project that’s a great deal more enthralled with the avant-garde. Seriously, this is a jarring cacophony of explosive black metal, erratic organ and vocals straight from Grand Declaration of War-era Mayehm. If you only choose one de Jong project to spin this year (so far), make it this one.
Dodecahedron – Kwintessens (Netherlands)
We’ve already covered the new Dodecahedron album quite a bit on the blog, both with our review and in our Editors’ Picks for March (link in the intro). Here’s a quick fun fact: Heavy Blog’s reviews for Dodecahedron’s self-titled debut and Dragged Into Sunlight‘s Hatred for Mankind were the first two pieces that attracted me to the blog, and for good reason. Besides having one of the best names in metal, Dodecahedron excel at bringing a slight bit of polish to the chaotic styling of Deathspell Omega and the like, and Kwintessens is a fully-fleshed out progression on that approach.
Ghâsh – Goat (Chile)
Ghâsh is one of two post-black/blackgaze projects that surprised me this month, as I’ve been way out of the loop with the subgenre over the past few years. For me, a lot of new bands in the genre make music that kind of hangs in mid-air and doesn’t ebb and flow into any particularly interesting territory. Goat, on the other hand, follow in the footsteps of Woods of Desolation and create alluring atmospheres with accents of pure triumph. Both subgenre skeptics and fanboys will probably want to hop on this album immediately.
Kalmankantaja – Demonwoods (Finland)
I know, I know—saying a black metal band “sounds like they’re playing in the woods” is one of the most tired cliches in metal journalism. But Kalmankantaja‘s folksy atmospheric take on the genre truly does sound like it’s condensed in a woodland clearing while reverberating through the surrounding evergreens. It’s interesting to hear a project that feels both claustrophobic and expansive, but I suppose that’s a fair description of winter—feeling insignificant amid and endless, awing force of nature. Armed with these sonic themes and tasteful use of synths, Demonwoods is a short but sweet album that should be spun at least once before winter is finally over (yup, we still have snow here in New Hampshire…).
Netra – Ingrats (France)
As is the case with each of these monthly round-ups, at least one album earned a spot based on a recommendation from a fellow Heavy Blog contributor. However, I haven’t quite been as pleasantly surprised by a rec as I was with Jordan’s HLT on Netra, because 1.) He didn’t seem like a huge black metal fan & 2.) He didn’t seem like this kind of black metal fan. On my first listen, one thing became abundantly clear—Ingrats is an odd album. with moments of ambient and industrial electronics, jazz piano, saxophones, spoken word and an abundance of other weirdness, Jordan’s description of mixing latter-year Ulver with Altar of Plauges‘s Teethed Glory & Injury is spot-on.
Skáphe – Untitled (United States)
What’s better than getting a new Skáphe project? Getting a bonus 20-minute chaotic dirge from the same sessions that spawned Skáphe², one of my favorite black metal albums from last year. This untitled track/EP is a short, punishing encapsulation of everything I love about the band, and if you haven’t listened to them before, do yourself a favor an tack this onto the end of Skáphe² and prepare for a hellish ride.
Violet Cold – Anomie (Azerbaijan)
I’ll be completely honest—I didn’t expect to enjoy this album nearly as much as I do. Like I said in my write-up for Goat, post-black and blackgaze aren’t my favorite black metal subgenres nowadays, and what I remember of Violet Cold‘s last album didn’t do much to change that. But not only was I pleasantly surprised Anomie, the album has quickly become my current AOTY for the genre. It’s an incredible blend of gorgeous, well-orchestrated post-black with hints of blackgaze bliss and impeccably placed and performed Middle Eastern instrumentation. This is an absolute must listen for 2017, and not just for black metal or even metal in general. Violet Cold probably won’t reach Deafheaven‘s level of acclaim, but they sure as hell deserve it.