Kvlt Kolvmn // February 2024

The beginning of the year is always a bit hard to quantify when it comes to gauging quality in the black metal scene. By contrast, look at the first quarter

a month ago

The beginning of the year is always a bit hard to quantify when it comes to gauging quality in the black metal scene. By contrast, look at the first quarter for death metal. There are several high profile and definitive seminal releases that genre fans can debate about through the remainder of the year. The landscape of black metal is never quite that simple. More than in perhaps any subgenre in extreme music, black metal offers quality work that labors in extreme obscurity, making the tracking down of notable releases often more difficult than with other musical spaces. But we here at Heavy Blog are nothing if not miners of hidden gems, and we have a few to present to you here. 

While gaining a firm narrative grasp on the black metal landscape may be a bit trickier in the year of our infernal underlord 2024, we can certainly stand behind the releases included here as being of exceptional quality. There’s plenty of incredible black metal to be had, sometimes it just takes a bit longer to find it. Let Kvlt Kolvmn be your companion and guide throughout the journey. 

Stay frosty. 

-Jonathan Adams

Winter’s Crown

Misotheist - Vessels by Which the Devil is Made Flesh

Every once in a while you hear a record that just makes you nod your head and say “yep, this is how you do it.” Misotheist’s triumph of a third outing Vessels by Which the Devil is Made Flesh is one of those releases. It’s three tracks and nearly 40 minutes of black metal hell that is dynamic and interesting in construction, borderline perfect in execution, and pitch-perfect in atmosphere. It’s the work of a band that deeply understands what it is trying to accomplish, and does exactly and only that from the opening moments of the record to its scintillating close. This is black metal done right in nearly every respect. 

While Misotheist hail from the spiritual birthplace of the second wave, one might be surprised to learn they aren’t Icelandic. Deftly blending atmosphere and a raw-but-polished aesthetic that isn’t afraid to live in mid-tempo ranges fairly frequently, Misotheist fit right into the black metal space occupied by the likes of Sinmara and Svartidaudi. But that isn’t to say they’re a carbon copy of any bands in a particular scene. Especially in their penchant for extended compositions, Misotheist are carving their own unique space in this sonic scene through subtle nuance. Blending haunting clean vocals with a dynamic harsh delivery that feels similar to Panzerfaust, Misotheist pull off a rare feat in which these tracks actually benefit from being as long as they are. The album’s title track contains all the elements of Misotheist’s songwriting aesthetic rolled into one cohesive, repetitious, and captivating composition, interspersing unique and unexpected elements into a structured and almost circular package. It’s thematic without ever being boring, structured without feeling bland. It’s expert stuff. 

If you’ve yet to give any of Misotheist’s records a listen, I strongly encourage you to do so. This is a band whose praises need to be sung much more loudly and vehemently in the scene. Vessels by Which the Devil is Made Flesh is a truly superb black metal record that blends old school elements with modern songwriting flourishes that are never short of captivating. A fantastic listen. 


Best of the Rest

Chapel Perilous - The Tower of Silence

When will Australia stop producing not only excellent music, but excellent music which arrives completely left of field? Maybe it’s inherently the case that music from out of there seems to catch me off guard because of their geo-location - an Australia of the mind, if you will. Or maybe it’s just the case that, no matter how far into their scene I think I’ve penetrated, there are always more excellent bands left over there that I don’t know. In any case, Chapel Perilous are yet another entry in the story of Australia’s crop of excellent, weird, and challenging black metal in 2024 (the other being the incredible release from Crypt Sermon). The Tower of Silence veritably buzzes with energy, blending razor-sharp riffs, ominous, dominant effects, and haggard vocals to create a whirling, unstoppable sort of black metal that is hard to step away from.

I think that’s the adjective I would most use to describe this album - arresting. Whereas other avantgarde black metal, which this might or might not fully be, often falls into the trap of elaborate, and naval-gazing, contemplation, Chapel Perilous don’t see a reason to choose between aggression and complexity. Check out “Race With Death” for example, the second track, and see if you can easily find your center in between the pummeling main riffs (which reminds me the most of the mighty Orm), the massive synth effects (which run between faux-string sounds and pure 70’s redolence), the off-kilter circus like passage which opens the track, and the unrelenting vocals. I couldn’t, even after dozens of listens, the track always flooring me with its expressiveness and unbridled violence.

And this is just a slice of what is waiting for you on The Tower of Silence; I could probably spend a few thousand more words trying to describe everything else this album attempts and accomplishes. You’ll just have to take the journey into one of this year’s most inventive and uncompromising albums yourself, diving into it black metal oddities and its odd black metal. Or something - “Race With Death” is currently driving me mad once again. Listen to this album!

-Eden Kupermintz

Fellbeast - Blessed By Darkness In Shadows We Dwell

Imagine stumbling across an abandoned cathedral deep in the woods on a cold, snowy day. It’s dusk, with the last few rays of sunlight piercing the gray shadows settling in for the night. The imposing stone structure isn’t locked, yet there’s a heavy aura of darkness haunting the place, as if the church itself doesn’t want visitors. Against your better judgment, you enter. 

Inside is a monument to faded glory. Layers of dust and dirt coat the marbled floor, almost entirely obscuring the glint of gold embedded under your feet. The baptismal font has long dried up, leaving stained rings around the sacred pool. As you slowly procede up the once-grand aisle, you get the eerie sensation of being watched by the crumbled statues waiting at the altar. Long chipped and worn by time, these fallen saints seem to stare from a tortured afterlife. The wind howls through the broken stained glass windows, imitating the harsh cries and moans of worshippers forced to leave their sanctuary by a great and terrible tragedy. 

Listening to Blessed By Darkness in Shadows We Dwell stirs the same feelings as a haunted cathedral hidden in a frozen forest. The chilling new offering from the mysterious Fellbeast spikes crushing black metal with an unholy triumvirate of vocal styles, eerie synths, and melancholic piano for an experience that evokes tainted saints and broken promises. An ethereal choir echoes faintly in the opening notes, accompanied by a delicate flute and steady drumbeat as a blood-curdling shriek emerges from the abyss. Masculine droning, as if from a monk, joins the processional for a proper descent into the depths. Instrumentation is minimal, with a simple synthetic cadence adding resonance to our choir of the damned without undercutting the religious effect.

The shrieking reaches a fever pitch as the tempo builds, quickly building into a wall of sound that crushes you. Then, all at once, the wall collapses. In its place, slow notes drifting from a piano alongside droning echoes. Whether it’s peaceful or mournful, you’ll never know. Caustic howls re-enter like an arctic wind, adding anguish to the funeral dirge. The interplay between classic black metal vocals and meditative drones creates a distinctive atmosphere throughout Blessed By Darkness In Shadows We Dwell, not quite the raw fury of most black metal albums. Instead, Fellbeast has infused this harsh subgenre with a mournful edge that evokes the spirutal. 


-Bridget Hughes

Jonathan Adams

Published a month ago