Well, it’s been a minute, but we’re back with a vengeance for another installment of Kvlt Kolvmn! Hope you didn’t miss us too much. But hey, who am I kidding? Of course you did. You may notice a different, less handsome and syrupy voiced face attached to our beloved Kolvmn this month. I know, major disappointment. I will be assuming the writing of this column for a bit, but never fear! I will try my best to live up to Scott’s sterling reputation for excellent black metal picks. That’s why we’re here, and what I intend to deliver to your anxious ears. Because it has been a few months since our last installment, we’ll be covering releases from both this and last month that are worthy of mention. So buckle up and prepare yourself for some black metal madness!
Kafirun – Eschaton
Of any subgenre in the metal world, black and death metal seem to have the most incarnations. Atmoblack, melo-death, blackened death, the list goes on and on. But sometimes I just want a black metal record that provides me with a good, straightforward punch to the gonads. Kafirun have provided us with just such an album, and good lord is it a doozy. “Lord of Blessed Murder” wastes nary a millisecond exposing us to a veritable onslaught of blast beats and tremolo picked goodness, with vocals covered in a cavernous production quality that makes their sound both immediate and sounding like they were howled from the void. Title track “Eschaton” and “Ephemerality of the Flesh” build on this foundation by adding tempo changes and cranking up the atmospheric elements of the record, creating a fog of dread that is both effective and intoxicating. Don’t sleep on this record. It’s lean, it’s aggressive, and it’s great. An excellent debut from these Vancouver heathens.
Tyrannosorceress – Shattering Light’s Creation
It’s hard to talk about Dallas’ Tyrannosorceress without talking about that name. I know, I know. If you keep up with this band, I’m sure you’ve read the countless opinions and diatribes on this subject. But honestly, I’m of the notion that what you name your band matters. It defines how people initially perceive your aesthetic/sound/genre/etc. before giving a record or song a spin. It, like album artwork, creates a mood or feeling that is intentional. In this instance, it appears that the feeling that Tyrannosorceress was aiming for was surprise, because this thing is nowhere as goofy (and utterly amazing) as their band’s name.
Shattering Light’s Creation is a treat from start to finish. At six tracks and forty-four minutes, it’s pretty safe to surmise that the majority of these tracks are long, winding and multi-faceted. This would not be an inaccurate assumption. Opener “Haunting Black Infinity” kicks off the record with eight minutes of epic black metal with some death metal leanings in the vein of bands like Tribulation, with the atmospherics and tempo control of acts like Falls of Rauros or Ash Borer. These traits don’t relent throughout the album’s duration, making it a compelling listen that I wanted to revisit as soon as the first spin was finished. Great stuff here.
Schammasch – The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite
Schammasch does nothing halfway. The band dives into their concepts with all of the aplomb and ferocity one could want from a black metal band in a full-time relationship with the avant-garde. As last year’s absolutely stunning Triangle clearly displayed, the band are at their best in service of an overarching concept. This time around, the band turn their attention to Isidore-Lucien Ducasse’s 19th-century novel Les chants de Maldoror. I have never read this novel, so I am generally unfamiliar with the literary concepts the band has chosen to base their work upon. Nevertheless, this is an absolutely stunning sonic experiment that works in almost every way. While many an album that opens with a “Prologue” can come across as either pretentious or in need of filler material, The Maldoror Chants’ prologue sets the scene for the rest of this EP beautifully. It is drenched in a rare level of atmosphere that is both soothing and incredibly intimidating. Subsequent track “The Weighty Burden of an Eternal Secret” should tell you about all you need to know about this excursion into literary concepts. If you don’t like this, you probably won’t like the rest. But I have a feeling you’ll enjoy just about everything this offering has in store for you. Still one of my favorite bands working in the black metal sector today.
american – Violate and Control
Imagine if the noisiest aspects of Full of Hell went black metal, joined forces with Dragged Into Sunlight and Godflesh, and held a séance at Altar of Plagues’ house. That’s kind of how this sounds, just nastier. Holy lord is this thing vile. With their sophomore release, american have brought to us one of the most thoroughly visceral metal records to be released this year in any subgenre. This is pure, unadulterated, noise-based industrial black metal filth. I love it with all of my heart.
With records like these there can be a fairly significant barrier to entry. While this isn’t completely inapplicable in regards to Violate and Control, the band do a nice job creating soundscapes that are as inviting as they are abrasive and jarring. “Visions of Great Faith” incorporates a very nice blend of industrial-tinged atmosphere and drum work with the black metal ferocity of the vocals and guitars. Such balances between styles are emblematic of the album as a whole, as tracks veer through harsh noise (“Necklacing” and “Submission Psalm”), to more traditional black metal fare (“Bedsheet Ossuary”), followed by sterling mixes of all of these elements (“Amorous and Subdued”). This has become a go-to record when I need to feel the primal rage locked in my subconscious. Enjoy liberally and with a hint of caution. Music may induce uncontrollable flailing of limbs.
In Human Form – Opening of the Eye by the Death of the I
This album sounds about like its title suggests. It’s baffling. It’s perplexing. It’s extremely difficult to pin down. It’s a whole lot of fun as well. For starters, take the more progressive tendencies of Wolves in the Throne Room and Agalloch and mix them with a liberal dose of Laster and progressive jazz and you have yourself maybe half of a description as to how this band sounds. That isn’t a knock on the music, mind you. It’s pretty great. You’ll need a quiet space to fully process mammoth tracks like “All Is Occulted by Swathes of Ego” or “Zenith Thesis, Abbadon Hypothesis” (as well as a dictionary), but this will be time well spent. The sonic variety and thoughtful songwriting contained in these tracks makes Opening of the Eye by the Death of the I a very enjoyable listen from start to finish. A very odd and accomplished sophomore record.
Les Chants du Hasard – Self-Titled
dons smoking jacket, lights pipe, swirls scotch What even IS black metal, anyway? Is it blast beats, tremolo picking, and wretched vocals? Is it the corpse paint or the anti-religious bent? What about the spikes and animal carcasses adorning the stage? Maybe the hatred our moms have for the music? Perhaps we’ll never know. But far be it from artists in the avant-garde to push the boundaries of whatever we think this most depraved of subgenres is. Let’s take out the guitars. The drums. Heck, let’s remove the trappings of metal altogether and enlist orchestral instrumentation with choral accompaniment. We’ll keep those vocals, though. They’re kvlt as fuck. That’s pretty much the aesthetic of Les Chants du Hasard’s self-titled debut record. But don’t think this is a hit piece. It isn’t. This is actually quite good, and bends the subgenre in ways we don’t often see. It’s lush and harsh simultaneously, and will without question be one of the most thoroughly interesting listens you will have at this point in the year. No more words. Dive in.
Wode – Servants of the Countercosmos
Yeah, I know. May release. Don’t care. Because it’s great and needs some good, old fashioned recognition. This band’s debut self-titled record blew me away. It was cold, fierce, confident, and compact. Essentially as defining and bold a statement as a new black metal band can make. So how do you follow that up? You create a very different, superior record that incorporates elements of death and thrash metal to absolutely brilliant effect. That’s what you do.
This album is lean, compact, and gets straight to the point. “Crypt of Creation” is a borderline perfect opener, and “Chaosspell” extends the shorter and tighter elements of the band’s sound into the stratosphere. This sounds like Wode, but with more variety and texture. It sounds like black metal pilfering the best things of other genres and making them their own. This band is criminally underrated. Let’s change that by listening the absolute crap out of this thing.
There’s so much black metal. These are some albums I particularly enjoyed. Now it’s your turn. What did we miss? What should we hear? Send us thine picks in the comments.