Vision Lunar – Luna Subortus (Review)

Vision LunarThis is the début EP from Vision Lunar, a one-man Atmospheric Black Metal project from Canada.

This is minimalistic Black Metal, atmospheric and haunting in its beauty and emanating an aura of darkness that’s softly broken by pale moonlight.

It’s a subtle affair, more interested in setting a scene and encouraging the listener to feel for themselves the primordial power of the night, rather than bluntly stating its intent with crude blasting or ugly vitriol.

The first song leads you in gently, while the last track lets you out slowly. In the middle is the main event; cascading Blackened riffs, producing a veritable sea of darkness that the moon gently glides above.

There are no vocals to sully the purity of this midnight exploration, only the atmospheric mood-setting of the guitars.

It’s a short release; at just under 12 minutes in length it’s a mere introduction to the vision of this particular artist. It’s worth setting aside the time to get to know it though, as its charms are insidious and rich in emotive qualities.

Listen and gaze up at the night sky.

Telerumination – Telerumination I (Review)

TeleruminationTelerumination are from the US and this is their début release. They play Atmospheric Black Metal.

Purely Ambient/Drone/whatever music doesn’t really do it for me most of the time. Sure there are exceptions; I enjoy bands like Haate and Pogrom, as well as Wolves in the Throne Room’s experimentations. From a non-Black Metal perspective, you also have releases such as those from IIVII and Aires, which I have also taken to quite nicely. For the most part though, it’s not for me.

So, what’s this got to do with Telerumination? Well, over the years it’s occurred to me that one of the main things, (although not the only thing), that is missing from the style is drums. I’m a percussion man. I love drums, beats and everything associated with them. This rather long-winded introduction is essentially a way of saying that Telerumination is, at heart, a Dark Ambient release, only with percussion.

Hmm. Maybe I should have just said that at the start, brevity being the soul of wit, and all that…

Anyway, low-key drums, creepy, understated screams and the odd bit of guitar is added to a strong synth-based core to create music that takes the best of Dark Ambient and, in my mind at least, improves upon it.

One of the brains behind Telerumination is the guy who does Natanas, so in a way you can view this as a less evil, more atmospheric version of his work with his main project. Telerumination does have a restrained malevolence to it, but nothing like the overt nightmare sounds that Natanas fosters so well. If Natanas is a portal into the underworld, a vision of Hell and all damnation, then Telerumination is a mirror that shows what’s behind the suffering; the subtle torments that lie underneath.

This is an oddly relaxing release. I mean, it probably isn’t if you’re just Joe Public and you had to listen to it. God knows what they’d make of it. I imagine it would probably give them nightmares. For us seasoned music fans though, it’s as if a swathe of sentient darkness has been filtered through a lens so that only the finest and most subtle of horrors were allowed through, creating textured explorations of distilled Black Metal that can comfort and amiably disturb those who have the will to succumb to its soothing terror.

This is an impressive collection of music that succeeds in its task of spawning a Blackened Ambience that improves upon the purestrain parent style to become something greater.

Turn off the lights and enter the world of Telerumination.

Fluisteraars – Luwte (Review)

FluisteraarsFluisteraars are a Black Metal band from the Netherlands and this is their second album.

Fluisteraars forge their windswept Black Metal from a core of the harsh, razor-sharp second-wave sound and build on this with expansive and emotive qualities to produce the Atmospheric Black Metal that we have on Luwte.

As noted above; their approach to lengthy Atmospheric Black Metal is a sharper and more dangerous proposition than most. Luwte shares more in common with the darker, more epic side of Burzum and Darkthrone than it does with Atmospheric Black Metal bands that incorporate Progressive and Post-Black Metal sounds into their music.

Icy, Blackened riffs tear out from the music like a blizzard, but this harshness is restrained by more melodic passages. These sections still have an affinity with the biting frost, but it’s a more insidious, creeping cold, and all the more deadly for it.

The music has a tendency to blow like a storm, interrupted by moments of calmer beauty that are still dark and foreboding, warning of what’s to come. The songs are punctuated violently by howling screams, although these are relatively few and far between, with the music remaining the focal point of the band.

Fluisteraars have created a deeply engaging album with Luwte. Rather than relying on keyboards, additional instruments or elements of different sub-genres, it’s nice to see Atmospheric Black Metal that takes its cues from the original, raw, frozen style.

Highly recommended.

Ancient Moon – Vvulture (Review)

Ancient MoonAncient Moon are an international Black Metal band and this is their début album.

This release contains a single track, Preastigitum Altareas, lasting just under 29 minutes in length.

This is raw, underground Atmospheric/Ambient Black Metal with a fuzzy guitar sound and a deep malevolent aura to it.

Ancient Moon’s Black Metal combines a strong Ambient/Drone influence, resulting in their music being comprised of several levels; layers and layers of darkness and filth are merged together to create a soundtrack of horror and ritualistic nightmare.

The music is hugely atmospheric and speaks of a rolling storm, gathering on the horizon and slowly, inevitably drawing closer, bringing ruin and devastation to all that it touches. This churning maelstrom is dense, impenetrable and evil to the core.

Like any storm, there are moments of calm throughout; Ambient respite amidst the Blackened winds. These are lonely, desolate places though. They act as breathers before the crushing suffocation of the music’s sheer weight is bought to the fore once more.

The singer does a great job of adding further atmosphere and presence to the sound by his assortment of deep cleans, semi-cleans, growls and screams. At times, combined with the music, he sounds downright scary. On occasion his vocals are like chants, at other times they are invocations, at other times they’re announcements; like a dark herald proclaiming the end times, it’s a message to heed and be fearful of. He really does have an excellent voice and his performance is top-of-the-line. Sometimes vicious, sometimes majestic, always intimidating.

The same of which can be said of the music too. In fact, this is less like music and more like an impending unnatural disaster that has been pulled up from Hell and unleashed upon a helpless world to make it die.

Vvulture does its job extremely well and if you like harrowing Black Metal with lots of atmosphere and swirling blackness then Vvulture is definitely for you.

Extremely highly recommended.

Myrkur – M (Review)

MyrkurThis is the début album from this Danish solo Black Metal project, although on this release she is joined by other musicians too.

This is second-wave Black Metal with supplemental ethereal flourishes. Angelic clean vocals and harsh, daemonic screams play out across music that’s as frozen as it is beautiful. Think bands like Burzum and Vinterriket, only with added atmospheric instrumentation and stunning female cleans.

And stunning is the right word, as the brains behind this outfit has an amazing voice. Sounding transcendentally beautiful and uplifting, her voice is an incredible tool that gets used just right. The screaming doesn’t let the side down either; this is the kind of scratchy, static-like high-pitched shrieking that works so well in Atmospheric Black Metal.

If the music was straightforward Black Metal I think that it might be put to shame by her voice. However, in reality the Black Metal core is added to by so many other instruments and elements that the beauty of the clean vocals and the icy nature of the guitars don’t reveal too much contrast as there’s a lot of other music going on to bring the two closer together; in addition to the standard Black Metal instruments we also get piano, violin, horn, tuba and other traditional Scandinavian instruments used on the tracks.

The main juxtaposition comes when the angelic cleans aren’t being used; here we get malevolent Black Metal with frosted fury and malignant intentions. These sections segue nicely into the more atmospheric/Folkier parts though, so there’s no massive disconnect, only a compelling and involving soundscape that contrasts the beauty of a frosty landscape with the dangers inherent in such a scene.

M doesn’t contain songs in a traditional sense; the tracks are movements designed to showcase an emotive musical tapestry that takes the best from second-wave Black Metal and adds extra layers to it via clean singing and bright atmospherics.

There’s not really anyone playing this kind of Black Metal at the moment, certainly not with this level of proficiency at any rate. It’s definitely a less-travelled path that Myrkur is treading and it’s going to be pretty exciting to see where it leads in the future. My hope is that the songs become lengthier and even more epic in scope, as my only real complaint about M is that it is over far too quickly.

But I digress. For the moment let’s ignore what the future holds and concentrate on what we have; authentic Black Metal with an individual and highly emotive take on the source material. M is a success in every way, and after the tantalising glimpse into her world that was her début EP, we have not been disappointed by the promises it contained.

This is a class album; doing something a little different with Black Metal while still retaining the core of the style has worked wonders.

This album will garner all kinds of praise from all kinds of people. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Grieving Mirth – Calamitosvs Omine (Review)

Grieving MirthGrieving Mirth are an Atmospheric Black Metal band with a multinational lineup. This is their début EP.

This is Black Metal that has speed and melody, neither of which are the main focus for the band though; this comes, instead, from the creation of dark atmospheres.

Even given that though, there is still bite here and the band manage to inject a certain savagery into the proceedings, even given the non-aggressive emphasis of the main themes.

It’s this inclusion of faster and harsher influences into the Atmospheric Black Metal style that marks Calamitovs Omine as separate from similar releases in the sub-genre as it combines these dark moods and atmospheres with an aggressive core that does its Blackened heritage justice.

The vocals have an innate power to them and there’s strength in these vocalisations that flows into the music and vice versa, working together to provide a foundation of muscle onto which the softer, traditionally more brittle, fragile elements of Atmospheric Black Metal are woven.

The songs take the listener into grim, foreboding places and illuminates them with a light that has real presence and force. Also included are a few nods towards Post-Black Metal, and even some clean vocals; both elements are skilfully incorporated into the whole.

This is a charismatic and impressive first release from a clearly talented band. Check them out and give them a listen.

Heathen – Heathen (Review)

HeathenHeathen is a one-man Black Metal band from Norway and this is his second album.

This is Atmospheric Black Metal played with an Old-School flavour and swamped in darkness.

Here we have 53 minutes of music that is authentic Norwegian Black Metal; recognisable enough to be instantly appealing and enticing enough to hold attention.

This is in the lo-fi style and sonically everything just fits perfectly. This is the kind of sound that Black Metal was born to.

Musically the brain behind the outfit is extremely talented and these compositions are very advanced. A lot of bands either concentrate on riffs or atmospheres but on this release we get a decent amount of both.

Quality riffs lay a bedrock on which the moods evolve and dark atmospherics unfold slowly and malevolently.

The pace picks up as well so as to provide variety but even here the aim of the increased speed is to also increase the impact of the feelings that are evoked.

The vocals are high pitched static screeches that are barely audible above the guitars. In effect they act as another layer to the music and it’s like someone is trying to scratch your eyeballs out with sound.

What can you say about an album like this? It needs to be experienced. This is the kind of Black Metal that keeps you in love with the genre.

An absolute must.

Ahamkara – The Embers of the Stars (Review)

AhamkaraAhamkara are from the UK and play Atmospheric Black Metal. This is their début album.

This is Black Metal with epic length songs and a windswept feel.

This is the kind of album that’s the soundtrack to exploration. It’s the Blackened equivalent of a map of uncharted territories and frost-worn mountains.

The Embers of the Stars is bitingly cold and achingly sensual in equal amounts. These songs are emotive and expressive, infused with the raw energy of nature and the passion that goes along with this.

Heartfelt guitars and subtle synths provide the rasping vocals with a rich background on which to scream out into the heavens.

This sweeping music is perfect for Black Metal that’s inspired by nature and seeks to channel it via a darkened Metal route. Each of these songs is extremely well composed and gives the feeling of really being in the raw, dangerous outdoors.

This is the kind of epic, atmospheric music that has been characterised well by the Cascadian scene, even though this is from the UK. Fans of Wolves in the Throne Room, Altar of Plagues, Agalloch, Fen, Skagos, Fauna, Wodensthrone, (who share a member), etc., will be very at home with Ahamkara. However, whereas a lot of these bands have Post-Metal qualities to their sound, Ahamkara substitute these for shades of the mighty Emperor and thus are more “pure” Black Metal than not.

Really top quality work like this should always be supported. Listen and become enthralled.