Volume Eight, July MMXXI


To inquire about submitting an analog relic for review, contact thecallofthenight@gmail.com.

ÆUMBRA Æumbra (Independent)

To call this recently emerged shadowy operation’s debut three-song tape ‘raw black metal’ is to toss it onto a heaping pile where it’s far less likely to be checked out and that, fellow denizens of the noisy darkness, is criminal. The production that bears Æumbra’s disarmingly magnificent demo is not raw in the meme way. It’s rustic. It’s home-recorded and honest. The tremolos shine, catchy, melodic and unblanched by modern trends and the drums never leave their side, loyal beasts that they are. The demo is not flawless, but no smoke screen is needed when, it’s clear, the band have earned the right to slay these tracks—two of which crest eight minutes. Overall closer to bands like Glass Shrine or latter day Circle of Ouroborus than Ildjarn, Emperor or Darkthrone, otherwise it’s truly astonishing there are still copies available on this obscure project’s Bandcamp. Do something about that. It’s eating at my faith. - J. Proust

Æumbra <i>Æumbra</i>

BEWITCHED CATACOMBS At Mine Master’s Behest (JEMS Label)

Like everything else I’ve experienced that’s come from beneath the Triumphant Shroud, Bewitched Catacombs brings forth a thoroughly maligned sound and atmosphere that commands you to keep increasing the volume, never mind your growing discomfort, your mounting dread, your rising anxiety. As if underdosed anaesthesia for a brain operation, At Mine Master’s Behest scrapes between your ears like death’s skeletal nails across the inside of your forehead. Prolific as the lunatic behind Bewitched Catacombs/Triumphant Shroud is, their releases tend to be relentlessly long and deviously thought-out. But Bewitched Catacombs keeps to one side of the tape, actually leaving the listener wanting for more, hurrying to the window where Master stands, beckoning. - J. Proust

Bewitched Catacombs <i>At Mine Master’s Behest</i>

BUER’S RUGIET Spill The Blood For The Ancient Goddamn Fallen (Pallid Vesture)

Here’s another recent, impressive outlier with copies yet available. Part of that highly interesting, new stateside tape label Pallid Vesture’s inaugural drop from May, Buer’s Rugiet—in which Buer is that wheel-like demon that Morbid Angel love so much and ‘rugiet’ means something like ‘roar’ in Latin—first released Spill the Blood… earlier this year, in March. With several tracks cracking the 10-minute mark, the debut full-length from this apparently solo effort offers almost an hour’s worth of shrill, menacing and out-of-tune black metal soul penetration and uneasy, deliriously long passages carried by a haunted acoustic guitar, with subtle and sparse dark ambient embellishments. In an age when everyone’s sound is blown-out and necro beyond recognition, Spill the Blood… shines like a beacon guiding its peers toward more substantial but no-less-fucked-up endeavors. Inspired “heavily […] by possession and death,” this tape inveigles itself into the listener’s consciousness through its deceptively pastoral sounds not unlike a demon first appearing to a child as a playful friend. Each time the black metal assault kicks in it’s like a torrent of demonic yellow bile straight to the kisser. Yummy! - J. Proust

Buer’s Rugiet <i>Spill The Blood For The Ancient Goddamn Fallen</i>

DEGREDO & OCCELENSBRIGG Raízes D'Outono (Nihil Obstat)

Released in 2019 by the extraordinary Nihil Obstat, Raízes D'Outono is a collaboration between two projects of the Aldebaran Circle, but feels more like a ritual session with all the members of that circle, with elements from each heard throughout. The core, however, is the Degredo percussion, setting the tone of this gelid journey through the majestic rural landscapes, contextualized by the field recordings. In turn, the Occelensbrigg guitars embrace the atmosphere with their characteristic blizzard-like riffs. An outstanding performance of wintery Black Metal, hailing the last days of Autumn, and the arrival of the endless winter nights, by some of the best artists in the scene. This release has just been beautifully repressed by Signal Rex and Satanik Requiem on LP format. - RoP

Degredo & Occelensbrigg <i>Raízes D'Outono</i>

FELGRIM Empires of the Night (Atrocity Altar)

Australian expat The Seer has proven time and time again to be an integral resource in keyboard-laden black metal's modern age. Paired with drummer Ainul Iblis (the notorious illustrator), Felgrim's part of The Seer's musical spectrum occupies a more aggressive space, featuring more prominent guitars than the majority of his projects, but with the characteristically dense keyboards which define The Seer's curated sound. - J.R.

Felgrim <i>Empires of the Night</i>

GORSEDD FM Rural Plaintives for Night’s End (Boul God)

A tremendous duo, ever-shapeshifting to attain the most remarkable and beautiful effects. Coming from a post-punk/black metal fusion on their first releases, this beautiful demo is the project’s most straightforward one yet, but it comes in the form of rustic neofolk. Simplicity really wins here. Beautifully arranged with autumnal chord progressions and summery leads, this EP transports the listener into golden pastures and serene rural sceneries, embraced by the subtle and innocent keyboards that elegantly enlighten these tracks. The lyrics add value to this release, sung in a manner akin to Death in June, a calm and eloquent way that aids in discovering and reading through these verses of introspection and self-discovery. No single moment is wasted in the discography of this band. Already eagerly waiting for their debut album dropping this month. - RoP

Gorsedd FM <i>Rural Plaintives for Night’s End</i>

GOSUDAR Morbid Despotic Ritual (Rotted Life Records)

Emanating foully from the Russian capital, Gosudar (a quick search reveals their nominal translation as “Sovereign”) evidently made good use of the plague year shutdown to spawn their debut full length Morbid Despotic Ritual. A noble effort of ichorous, doomed death metal that runs contrary to contemporary efforts in this vein in that Gosudar’s adherence to the latter genre is more so the predominant force here. Frenziedly precise, taut, and frill-less riff stylings lumber headlong into cavernous, mind-eroding clean guitar episodes and lead parts reeking of pure desolation, cycling back again and again. In this, Morbid Despotic Ritual features an engaging tableau of textures and atmospheres, and occupy a familiar but under-explored stylistic space that few execute to their degree of quality. - N.B.

Gosudar <i>Morbid Despotic Ritual</i>

JOTGRIMM Winterschwärze (Voldsom Musikk)

Voldsom is a seemingly inexhaustible trove of gem-quality dark ambient/dungeon synth, coming in a subtle gradient of flavors. Dealing chiefly with themes of the natural world, both terrestrial and celestial, the German operation and its somewhat imposing armada of releases, often adorned with beautiful black-and-white nature photographs, is a massively important player in this area of music dating back to well before the current resurgence of the “dungeon synth” style. Jotgrimm’s Winterschwärze (“Winter blackness”) is a deep exploration of, at once, the sense of massivity and the intimacy that comes with observing nature and the cosmos from a darkened, snow-blanketed realm. Three quarters of an hour elapses in a trice with meditative, introspective, twinkling and thrumming, fathoms-deep analog synth mastery. Extinguish your lights, shield your gaze from modern distraction, and begin to wander down the snowy rabbit hole of Voldsom’s nearly thirty releases to date. Cassette tape listening via one of the label’s recent ‘old stock’ tape editions is recommend, but if this options proves elusive the label has done us all a favor by uploading to the Voldsom Bandcamp a good number of releases (including Winterschwärze) as contiguous full-rips. - N.B.

Jotgrimm <i>Winterschwärze</i>

MAHVAN AMP of Ruin (Symbolismus Werke/Altare Productions)

An astonishing revelation of modern black metal under the banner of Symbolismus Werke (based around visionary cult German act Nahtrunar), of Ruin is a massively important release sure to sit atop many a year-end list. As Mahvan Amp’s mission statement outlines, of Ruin is somewhat experimental in nature, featuring obscure melodies, jarring dissonances, and progressive rhythmic inflections, but this experiment is executed with sneering confidence and complete impunity. Connections can be made, in the album’s more traditional-sounding moments, to Mahvan Amp’s stated associates in Nahtrunar, in terms of tremendous speed and musical agility—this album is absolutely blasting at times—but there’s an overpowering, large-scale, sinister atmosphere found here that is absolutely captivating. Within the titular opening track alone, a taste of all this release has to offer can be found—from the curious wailing of the very first riff to the quiet, torturously tension-filled outro. This monumental release has to be experienced in full (a few physical copies remain as of this writing) but can perhaps be best summarized in the artist’s own words: “A work based on eschatological prophetism and theistic mysticism in the light of imminent apocalyptic collapse.” - N.B.

Mahvan Amp <i>of Ruin</i>

NECROMANTIC WORSHIP Spirit of the Entrance Unto Death (Nuclear War Now! Productions)

Easily one of the best tapes of the past ten years, and already six-years-old, Spirit of the Entrance Unto Death appeared one day out of nowhere in NWN!’s webstore and, based on the artwork alone, I simply couldn’t order it fast enough. Shortly after securing my copy, I listened to Necromantic Worship, that too-short-lived lovechild of Ghûllzaraën and Xarangorth, and discovered that besides quite literally living up to their name, this Dutch duo had manifested something truly eldritch and powerful. Not only worshipping those strictly low-end purveyors of Hellenic mythos black metal, but also folding in something entirely their own. Something potent enough to majorly influence a new wave of dungeon synth/black metal musicians, if not foment the whole resurgence. Remember Y said, in the now gone forever Necromantic Worship thread, that he was going to post the announcement for the arrival of Necromantic Worship, but apparently someone beat them to the punch. (Included with the picture of my copy of Spirit… are three of the paintings Ghûllzaraën sent me in 2016.) - J. Proust

Necromantic Worship <i>Spirit of the Entrance Unto Death</i>

OWL’S BLOOD Owl’s Blood (Altare Productions)

Owl's Blood is dead, long live Owl's Blood. The first public entrant into the ever-growing Basque Country scene, which also boasts Ostots, Gaua, Nakkiga, and more, Owl's Blood introduced the global scene to a forgotten region and the mythologies held therein. Though presenting themselves as more of a "meat and potatoes" type of black metal, Owl's Blood succeeded in their brief discography, compiled here in this triple cassette set, through understanding black metal in a deeper sense. The Owl's Blood compendium is both a headstone for and a celebration of this now defunct band's own triumphs. - J.R.

Owl's Blood <i>Owl's Blood</i>

PHANTOM FEEL Larval Umbrae (Aborted Existence)

Back in 2012 Phantom Feel vibrated into existence with a pair of demos before erecting this stoic statue of black metal excellence in 2013. Packaged in a plastic bag with multiple inserts and what I have read are segments of a cat's spine, Larval Umbrae is a stirring and inspirational monument to creativity and exploration in the fairly limited world of raw black metal. In the short span of this 18 minute tape, PF puts forth glimpses of dark ambient, musique concrete, weltering gloom, and sterling black metal. Shamanic rhythms give way to cascade like blasting, emotive sorrowing vocals evolve into low and full bellows. There is so much to digest and ponder, thematically and aurally, in such a condensed package that it simply begs for repeated listenings. I don't know much about Phantom Feel, I was not aware of this project when it was brand new so I don't have any clues as to who was behind this or what they may be up to now. Early collaborations with modern underground legends Obskuritatem and Carved Cross make it hard for me to believe that whoever was behind this project vanished into thin air without starting a new project. Perhaps in the future I will hear something that pricks my ears the way this has but until that point, I'll just rewind Larval Umbrae again. Wash your hands after touching the cat bones. - R.L.

Phantom Feel <i>Larval Umbrae</i>

SECRET STAIRWAYS Enchantment Of The Ring/Turning Point (White Wolf Productions)

The two greatest masterpieces by late American dungeon synth (though the music didn’t bear this limiting title at the time) forefather Matthew Davis recently saw an official limited rerelease on a beautiful double cassette presentation by Italy’s White Wolf Productions. Comprising 1997’s Enchantment of the Ring and 1999’s Turning Point (both of which regularly appear on greatest of all-time assessments of the genre) this release is one of a handful of recent physical editions of Secret Stairways material after a long drought in such objects, and is hopefully a portent of more extensive physical disseminations. In addition to the main affair (a faithful analog dubbing of the two classic mystical, otherworldly synth opuses which I won’t do the disservice of trying to summarize musically in this short format column) this edition also included a handful of small physical relics, the nicest of which is an album booklet featuring a handful of previously unseen photos of Davis himself. While such things are fundamentally inessential to appreciating greatness for what it is, in this case a series of wordless glimpses at the artist (who passed in 2011 and whose work has gained an extensive following in the ensuing years) is as close to a visceral connection as devotees of the material can hope to get. - N.B.

Secret Stairways <i>Enchantment Of The Ring/Turning Point</i>

STAHLIJAZHAMUR Heraldic Heresy (Ancient Site Productions)

Raw but melodic black metal bands offering screeching tremolo guitar riffs while a ghostly wail blasts over the top are seemingly a dime a dozen these days. The system works and many bands are very willing to give the people exactly what they want. That being said, I think very few contemporary artists are doing this style more justice than Sweden's Stahlijazhamur. The guitars are not only grandiose but thoroughly developed as well, featuring two complimentary guitar lines which surprisingly few other artists endeavor to pull off. "The Seer And The Sorcerer" features tasteful application of synths here as well but it's an unusual reedy tone which is also a breath of fresh air. My primary grievance with this band is the drums, the composition is fine but the production and programming makes them sound a bit like someone knocking on a table top. The production works great for the guitar and vocals though, presenting everything with a suitably gritty patina while remaining entirely legible. After two excellent demos, I eagerly await the next jump forward in quality from this excellent project. - R.L.

Stahlijazhamur <i>Heraldic Heresy</i>

UL Winterschlaf (Moonworshipper)

As reliable as the bell tower's chime, Moonworshipper has emitted another cassette tape of top shelf audial mysticism. UL is the ambient synth project of Gamzhurm, an artist better known for stirring up ungodly deathstench in bands like Nächtlich and Black Kruud. Ironically reawakening the project with an album title that translates to "hibernation," UL presents a bit over 20 minutes of heavily atmospheric synth music. Ostensibly broken into three movements, each track runs together to make one cohesive piece. Soft but dense blankets of archaic synths cover the ground like snow while the sounds of real snow and wind fill in any gaps. I found this to be one of the most plaintive and relaxing releases from this corner of the underground in some time, not what one would expect if they were only familiar with Gamzhurm's other work. - R.L.

UL <i>Winterschlaf</i>

VASSAV C.I.T.R.I.N.I.T.A.S (Unseen Predation Cult)

Bubbling from below in the depths of the mysterious Unseen Predation Cult circle of bands, Vassav emerges with their debut recording: C.I.T.R.I.N.I.T.A.S. Spread over the course of a harrowing half-hour ordeal, Vassav play a heavily doomed out version of a droning, claustrophobic brand of harsh black metal. Immense repetitive rhythms act as the groundwork for disorienting and viscous flowing sheets of guitar and vocal terror, altogether sounding as I imagine black metal music might be perceived if you were trapped in a volcanic coffin as the magma rises around you. Deeply steeped in impenetrable occult imagery and themes, this is one to sit with and digest slowly over time, passing glances and distracted listens will not suffice. Issued on cassette by Cónclave Curatorial, a true bastion of anti-social and esoteric art in eastern Mexico, diehard devotees will do well to not skip this one. - R.L.

Vassav <i>C.I.T.R.I.N.I.T.A.S</i>

VPAAHSALBROX 14 Sovereign (Independent)

Vpaahsalbrox's limited 2005 demo 14 Sovereign was the impetus for something greater, but in itself was mastery, as well. Touting itself as one of the most depraved and disturbing entries into my collection, Vpaahsalbrox's deranged discord burst into an unsuspecting scene. Having never performed, this shrieking, horrific take on black metal exists in a vacuum, though its many tendrils which have led to bands like Gallows, Doldrum, Erraunt, I'm In A Coffin, and more, make this curiosity (which was eventually released on vinyl in limited amounts) equally as historic as it is quality. - J.R.

Vpaahsalbrox <i>14 Sovereign</i>

VZÖRBRËZV Ascending the Black Throne of Depravation (Asylum Tenebris)

Hailing from the Garde Noire circle, one of the most stygian and prolific sects nowadays, this French duo presents here their third demo. Released by Asylum Tenebris, this demo shows once again the project diving into deep sulfurous ponds, capturing the essence of the LLN, but shaping it into their own views of inhumane supremacy. A very interesting demo that sounds like one single, monolithic track of pummeling primitivism, reminiscent of Brenoritvrezorkre, with archaic riffs building this acrid atmosphere that is occupied by the agonizing screams of lost souls emanated by the leads, pieced together by decrepit black ambient, with acoustic parts and terrorizing violin dissonance, hailing back to the Portuguese tyrant, Mons Veneris and his seminal 2016 album, Sibilando com o Mestre Negro. - RoP

Vzörbrëzv <i>Ascending the Black Throne of Depravation</i>