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Kvlt Kolvmn // April 2024

Black metal moves ever onward, and Kvlt Kolvmn is here to document the chaos.  As has been stated a few times this year already, the genre seems to be in

25 days ago

Black metal moves ever onward, and Kvlt Kolvmn is here to document the chaos. 

As has been stated a few times this year already, the genre seems to be in a bit of a lull when it comes to sheer amount of standout releases. Which isn’t to say there’s an inherent lack of records that would be celebrated in any year, just that there seems to be less of them. But sometimes less is more, as evidenced by the exceptional records below. At least one of these records is highly likely to make my metal AOTY list at the end of the year, and we can easily vouch for the incredible consistency and highs of each record included here.

So slap on your headphones, block off a few hours, find yourself a dark room and gaze into the void with us. You won’t regret it. 

Stay frosty. 

-Jonathan Adams

Winter’s Crown

Sacrificial Vein - Black Terror Genesis

Black metal is supposed to be, at least in theory, scary. From its inception, the entire marketing bent of the genre was based on spooking parentals, riling up religious folks, and expressing an at times lethal level of nihilism. Many churches were burned in the creation of this aesthetic. But let’s be honest… most black metal is genuinely and fundamentally corny. It’s hard to actually elicit fear in listeners when you’re traipsing around the woods in corpsepaint swinging swords, clutching invisible oranges, and screaming about the Nazgul. It’s fun as hell, but “frightening” it certainly is not. Which is why when bands like Sacrificial Vein enter the black metal atmosphere with a debut record that I have a hard time listening to at night I take particular notice. Like similar blackened metal creepers Blut Aus Nord, Altarage, Plebeian Grandstand, and Ævangelist, Minnesota’s Sacrificial Vein plug into a nightmarish sonic frequency that elicits actual, visceral human response. It’s black metal that is, strangely enough, legitimately terrifying.

Featuring the vocal work of Elegist from the infinitely underrated death metal group Nothingness and the string slamming of multi-instrumentalist J.U., Sacrificial Vein creates a type of sonic ruckus that crawls under your skin and stays there long after the last note has played. Atmospheric without being formless and avant-garde while avoiding obtuseness, Black Terror Genesis balances its various blackened elements in a multitude of supremely satisfying ways that are consistent in both quality and impact across the record. The instrumental work here is equal parts vicious and nuanced, vacillating between subtle intricacy and abject chaos with expert skill, keeping listeners fully off-kilter throughout the album’s nearly 50-minute runtime. The instrumentals here are honestly fantastic, but it’s Elegist’s vocals that provide the record with its most visceral and epic sense of horror. There’s a vicious, feral, and utterly unhinged element to this particular performance that feels reminiscent of Andavald’s criminally overlooked and underappreciated record Undir skyggðarhaldi, which features one of the most resplendent and horrifying vocal performances I have ever heard. Elegist’s performance simmers, seethes, and writhes across each undulating note with conviction and reckless abandon, creating something that feels genuinely special and discomfiting. “Throne of Perversion” displays this approach wonderfully, adding an element of borderline ecstasy to the generally grim proceedings and making the track feel all the more disturbing for its intense sense of glee. It’s unabashedly disturbing… an element the genre has sorely lacked over the past decade. 

Everything about this record is excellent. Its atmosphere is bone-chilling, the performances are intelligent and brilliantly executed, and the songwriting aesthetic across the board is legitimately uncomfortable to experience. But Black Terror Genesis is, somehow, never uninviting. Like an eerily beautiful witch beckoning you into her murder cabin, the record’s dark sonic pathology is easy to slip into and very difficult to shake once its hooks are firmly embedded in your skull. The fact that this is the band’s first outing is genuinely alarming, because I am honestly horrified to contemplate where their sound goes from here. There’s no doubt in my mind. Black Terror Genesis is one of the most arresting black metal records I have heard in years, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

-JA

Best of the Rest 

Acathexis - Immerse

Back in 2018, international black metal collective Acathexis dropped one of that year’s most underappreciated records. Featuring the formidable talents and collective might of Mare Cognitum, Déhà, and Los Males del Mundo, the group’s self-titled debut left an indelible impression on me, but a six year gap between releases certainly relegated its impact into a distant memory. Enter Immerse, the collaborative project’s second full-length record, and a more than welcome addition to a somewhat bare 2024 in the world of black metal. Which isn’t intended at all to be a statement concerning the album’s inherent quality. Despite a dearth of high quality black metal releases so far in 2024, Immerse is the type of record that would catch my attention in any given year. From start to finish, it is in every regard a worthy successor to its stirring predecessor. 

Those entranced by Acathexis’ debut can rest easy when it comes to approaching Immerse. While certainly containing its own set of unique attributes, the core sound established in the group’s debut (melody-centric, epic black metal) are as vibrantly realized as ever in Immerse. “Adrift in Endless Tides” is a particular highlight when it comes to showcasing the band’s perfection of their chosen sound. There is a level of balance here that is unique to hear when it comes to collaborative projects, with each individual performance building on and complimenting its counterparts skillfully. Performance collectivism is the name of the game for Acathexis, and you’d be hard pressed to find a crack or seam in the band’s vision or framework. Instead, listeners will find a record that ups the ante in every regard from the band’s debut, generating emotionally potent sequences of melody encased in a generously heavy and violent sonic soundscape. Even when the music expands into more progressive and lush sounds (think the middle section of “The Other” for reference), the songwriting is skilled enough to make each transition feel like a logical extension of its preceding parts. Each track flows brilliantly into the next, creating a unified experience that’s best digested as a whole. There really aren’t any major weak spots here (though I might personally have preferred a little trimming around the edges near the end of a couple tracks).

The bottom line is if you enjoyed Acathexis emotive and melody-forward brand of black metal back in 2018, Immerse will satisfy you in no uncertain terms. The performances are sharper, the collective vision crisper, and the production a pitch perfect blend of guitar-forward intensity and atmospheric density. It is, on the whole, a superb follow-up to a genuinely great record that I can easily recommend. Let’s try not to wait six years for the next one, gang.

-JA

Givre- Le Cloître

I am waiting for Givre to become less of a secret; Le Pressoir mystique, their previous release, echoed a bit beyond some very specific online circles but nowhere near as far as it should have, seeing as the album was a masterful bit of post black metal. And now, Le Cloître is receiving even less attention, even as it pushes the band further than they have gone before and into true greatness. The album continues the band’s focus on Christian themes, this time using each track to explore the martyrdom of a different person. These themes, as with the previous release, interacts with the haggard and harrowing nature of black metal in interesting ways, flipping the genre’s emphasis on suffering, derision, and individual suffering on its head. 

This artistic gesture, coupled with some truly excellent and incisive post black metal, turns Le Cloître into something special, grandly moving but powerfully at the same time. There’s something about listening to the type of pained vocals that place this release firmly within the post black metal subgenre and knowing they are singing about faith and sacrifice that elevates the artistic intent. This is especially true when the main riffs of each track explode into life, rich with the intricate composition style of Givre. Sure, they go fast, as you’d expect from the subgenre, but they are also incredibly complex, counterpunctual guitar riffs bouncing off of each other and challenging our ears. The drums are likewise complex, furious and surprising rhythms barely containing the instrumental chaos around them.

Is this an avant-garde release? It’s hard to tell because of the definition’s shifting nature but there’s definitely that sort of theatrical weirdness that seems to be enough for a release to get cataloged as such. Regardless, Le Cloître is definitely an effective release, splitting us to the bone with the pain, sacrifice, and revolutionary defeatism of sacral sacrifice. If you’re looking for an album to tear apart to, this is as good a candidate as any and better than most. Givre truly have something special going on and I hope that more people are exposed to it.

-Eden Kupermintz

Jonathan Adams

Published 25 days ago