Label Roundup: Black Mass Prayers – Lykten, Urluk, & Valadier (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.

For this edition we turn to Black Mass Prayers, an Italian label that states it is “supporting the Italian Black Metal underground and aiming to spread its glory worldwide”. Neither other the label nor the bands on it were familiar to me prior to this, so it felt like a good time to dig in and explore what they had to offer…

Lykten – When the Clouds Approached and Covered the Moon – Black Metal – Italy

Lykten - When the Clouds Approached and Covered the MoonA one-man project, this debut EP contains 22 minutes of underground black metal cut from the same unholy cloth as the classic Scandinavian 90s scene.

The music is raw and impassioned, and is brutally harsh in places. However, the music also shows admirable restraint for such a new outfit; whereas the temptation might have been to unleash full savagery all of the time, the artist behind this band demonstrates a good understanding of atmosphere and mood. Dungeon synth elements can be heard, and the music makes good use of mournful melodies. I particularly like what some of the rhythm guitars get up to, and the malevolent vocals are well-performed.

This is a solid introduction to Lykten. Let’s see where the artist goes from here.

Favourite Track: Sangue di Drago. The shortest track here, it has a Rotting Christ-esque energy that’s compelling.

Urluk - LossUrluk – Loss – Blackened Doom- Italy

This 29-minute EP combines raw black metal with melancholic doom, resulting in mostly mid-paced mood-focused hymns to darkness and the natural world.

The singer’s screams sound like liquid venom, and the blackened guitars are overflowing with sorrow and gloom. There are some nice atmospheric lead melodies used, while acoustic guitars and synths are used sparingly, but add texture when they appear.

Urluk are a band with a clear vision for where they want to go, and Loss is a good place for them to build from.

Favourite Track: IV. The perfect storm of the band’s component parts, this is steeped in emotive guitars and a driving Gothic/post-punk feel.

Valadier - Stronghold of the Everlasting PyreValadier – Stronghold of the Everlasting Pyre – Black Metal – Italy

The final EP we’ll look at has a duration of 28 minutes and combines black metal with medieval folk influences.

The band mix classic and contemporary influences well, and the folk elements, (acoustic guitars, flute), are incorporated without issue. Lighter moments are used throughout the release to add texture to the atmosphere that Valadier are building. The heavier moments are predominantly mid-paced, with plenty of double bass and a good selection of unexpectedly meaty riffs deployed.

The songs come across as a mix of Immortal, Gorgoroth, Burzum, Bathory, and Obsequiae, at least roughly, and this is a decent enough place to get an initial idea of Valadier’s sound from.

A good start for Valadier.

Favourite Track: Pathway Though Fire and Doom. A well-written song with engaging personality and very good use of bass.

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