Label Roundup: I, Voidhanger Records – Creature, Mystras, Ars Magna Umbrae, & Vertebra Atlantis (Reviews)

Wonderbox Metal gets sent a lot of new music, (which is great), but there’s no way that everything can get covered unfortunately, (which is not so great). This new column hopes to redress this balance, if only slightly, by taking a look at a handful of releases that a record label has recently sent out that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.

I, Voidhanger Records consistently puts out high quality, frequently non-standard music. One of their releases is always an interesting proposition to explore. Below you’ll find four of the label’s more recent ones; make sure you give each of them the time it deserves…

Creature - Eloge de L'OmbreCreature – Eloge de L’Ombre – Progressive Black Metal – France

Here we have a progressive black metal solo act, (aided by the drummer of Leprous), that boasts some avant-garde flourishes and a full, grandiose sound.

The promo blurb recommends this for fans of Arcturus, Solefald, Ihsahn, and The Devin Townsend Project, and that acts as a pretty reliable set of reference points for the journey that Eloge de L’Ombre takes you on.

The well-written songs are enjoyable and this is a very well-rounded album. The music has a 70s feel, at least parts of it do. It’s as if a modern black metal album had somehow reached into the past and sucked up some prime progressive sci-fi influences.

An enjoyable journey with lots to offer fans of multifaceted metal.

Mystras - Empires Vanquished and DismantledMystras – Empires Vanquished and Dismantled – Greece – Folk Black Metal

Empires Vanquished and Dismantled is brought to us by the artist behind Spectral Lore, and here  he delivers 63 minutes of medieval black metal.

Filled with medieval themes, creative nuances, and folk enhancements, this album transports the listener back in time to see what lessons can be learned from the past.

The folk influences are wonderfully integrated into the music, in both overt and subtle ways. A range of additional instruments and guest musicians/vocalists appear, further enriching the album’s potent offering. Folk tracks are mixed in with black metal ones; the former are heartfelt, expressive, and richly-wrought, while the latter are sharp and melodic. Fast, but also textured, the black metal songs are finely detailed and hit the spot nicely. There’s a lot going on here, and close attention to the music is rewarded with a depth and complexity that might otherwise be easily missed.

A very strong release. Check this out if you like your raw black metal to come with a side order of rich folk.

Ars Magna Umbrae - Throne Between Worlds

Ars Magna Umbrae – Throne Between Worlds – Atmospheric Black Metal – Poland

While all of the bands on this list deserve a longer, fuller review than I’m presently able to give them, I feel Ars Magna Umbrae is a band that’s especially deserving, simply because I’ve been eagerly following their releases since their very first, (Through Lunar Gateways).

The artist behind this band has a very particular esoteric vision for his art, and on his latest release it is very well-realised. The atmospheric form of black metal that you’ll find here is idiosyncratic and packed with good ideas and interesting content. Some of the riffs feel like they have been twisted into otherworldly shapes, while the leads sound multidimensional, and the solos rich and captivating.

This is music with its own identity within the blackened hordes. It is always a pleasure to hear more material from Ars Magna Umbrae, but I can’t help but feel that on Throne Between Worlds the artist has outdone himself.

Essential listening.

Vertebra Atlantis - Lustral Purge in Cerulean BlissVertebra Atlantis – Lustral Purge in Cerulean Bliss – Black/Death Metal – Italy

Featuring a member of Cosmic Putrefaction, Lustral Purge in Cerulean Bliss contains 42 minutes of crushing malevolence. Combining grim atmosphere, dark psychedelia, and forceful death metal into a dissonant blackened whole, Vertebra Atlantis have delivered a vicious and evil record.

These songs seem to be crafted from a brutal and bloody night of carnage and mayhem that’s somehow been captured, restrained, and then shaped into the form of seven colossal dissonant blackened death metal monstrosities. The band are clearly talented at what they do, and these songs are infused with absorbing dark atmospheres, inventive and eerie riffs, and the type of growled lead vocals that seem to swallow all light.

Lustral Purge in Cerulean Bliss is an atypical album that has come out of nowhere and brutally hammered through my ribcage and into my heart. Twisted death metal, with a blackened dissonant soul, and atmosphere that’s absolutely all-encompassing? Hell yeah, this is the stuff.

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