Volume Four, February MMXXI


BATTLE OF HEROES OST (Glass Jelly Souffle)

As I was first really diving back into the dungeon synth style - stoned and with a pocket full of disposable income - I found this little oddity in the Lighten Up Sounds distro. Wrapped in candy-style paper and full of intrigue, this bizarre soundtrack from Russia is more than the dungeon synth that one would expect. A full soundtrack to an obscure video game, the Battle of Heroes official soundtrack traverses many styles, from digital dungeon music to a string quartet. The possibilities are endless on your quest as you venture through Battle of Heroes. -J.R.

Battle of Heroes <i>OST</i>

BLACK CANDLE WAX Bloodbat Mystic (Odd Memory)

With Bloodbat Mystic (and its companion EP, The Cinderlands), Black Candle Wax have planted their tattered and cryptic flag in the red soil of the true American west. Uncharted territory as far as most black metal bands are concerned, except for Volahn’s later Morriconean works. Allegedly inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece Blood Meridian, Black Candle Wax’s fifth tape/first full-length, Bloodbat Mystic counts eight tracks of melodic, doom-paced black metal unlike anything you’ve heard before. Little is known about BCW outside of its inner circle, and, despite being a focused and creative piece of art, Bloodbat Mystic itself is short on details—good luck even knowing which side is which. But this little, red tape truly is something special. If Sacriphyx were from Texas and wrote an album about the Civil War, it might sound something like this. - J. Proust

Black Candle Wax <i>Bloodbat Mystic</i>

BLACK NUMENOREAN Sword of Heresy (Tour de Garde)

Stripped-down, stately, thumping old-school melodic black metal with sparingly used synth and an unreasonable amount of awesome riffs. This project is noted as being from Russia, and while the Numenorean(s) behind these five “acts” of war remain anonymous, it’s clear that they’re longtime devotees to both black metal and heavy metal in general (see if, like me, you hear a subtle nod to Manowar in the opening of “Act I”). Over an all-too-brief 17-minute run time, Sword of Heresy marches confidently from one furious (literally, the drumming especially on this demo gets pretty fast) battle to the next – each a decisive victory of compelling riffs and dynamic songwriting that ranges from pure aggression to majestic storytelling. Aesthetically, the production here is another shining example of a current release that could have come right out of the glory days of the mid 1990s, in the best possible way. -N.B.

Black Numenorean <i>Sword of Heresy</i>

CELESTIAL SWORD Fallen From the Astral Temple (Death Kvlt Productions)

Death Kvlt Prod. is a pretty reliable source for black metal that both sonically and aesthetically continues to till the soil of the 90s and early 00s, which for someone like myself who grew up in those times who continues to have that itch that requires scratching means I can typically approach their release schedule knowing I’ll find something comfortable to slip into. Celestial Sword’s debut cassette from the label carries a lot of what made early Xasthur great but infuses it with some extremely original and harsh vocal work, at times reminding me of Vorak and at others the mid 90’s Polish demo scene. This is dismal black metal with a dungeonesque atmosphere, another excellent find for the label and an extremely promising project to keep an eye on for the future. -N.J.

Celestial Sword <i>Fallen From the Astral Temple</i>

CRUSHING THE SCEPTER Echoing Screams of Madness and Delusion (Transylvanian Recordings)

Three ~15 minute sagas of swirling, tortured funeral doom impaled on stakes of dissonant atmospheric black metal. Echoing Screams is cleanly produced but has an aesthetic ranging from absolutely stifling at times to patently barren and bleak at others. Sinister, mid-high screeches elevate the sludgier parts of this release and provide contrast, as does the excellently varied drum work. While by no means could anything about this release be considered really “melodic,” there are regular moments of feverish, twisted harmony reminiscent of the modern Icelandic black metal style, again lending substance to what might otherwise be overlong songs. -N.B.

Crushing The Scepter <i>Echoing Screams of Madness and Delusion</i>

GATES OF LONDRA Gates of Londra (Födweg)

Unlike many metal fans, reading and enjoying fantasy literature is quite new to me as opposed to a lifelong endeavor. That being said, I have held a decades long appreciation for music inspired by the work of Michael Moorcock, namely Blue Oyster Cult and Hawkwind. So imagine my surprise to discover a brand new black metal project composed exclusively of Moorcock worship. Gates of Londra arrives to us via the clan of Fodweg and offers just a brief taste of this dour, drum machine-laden realm of martial black metal. The scope of this project is so niche, I wouldn't be surprised if they have already said everything they desired to and promptly disappear back from whence they came but if this is only the appetizer for what is to come, I will be first in line to once again pass through these gates into Moorcock's multiverse. -R.L.

Gates of Londra <i>Gates of Londra</i>

GAUNTLET RING As Far As Light Will Die (Self-released)

In the dying weeks of 2020 The Call was pleased to receive its first physical demo offering from NYC’s Gauntlet Ring by way Bitter Lake Recordings, a tape label run out of Brooklyn record shop Material World. Self-described as “hateful black metal from NYC,” Gauntlet Ring’s efforts are a dedicated, if perhaps slightly more aggressive, take on classic American DSBM (both musically and in written sentiment – photo attached). Given that influence, these pieces are mostly slow, tormented, and hateful but occasionally boil over into driving double-time parts that add forward momentum to the release. Gauntlet Ring’s works seem to exist solely in the analog realm but are eminently worth seeking out – and Gauntlet Ring ostensibly has strong opinions about those who dissent to this method of releasing music. -N.B.

Gauntlet Ring <i>As Far As Light Will Die</i>

HAXENZIJRKELL Des Lasters de Zaubery (The Cosmic Pillars)

I stumbled upon this band due to their split with the terrifically fucked Brånd last year and found their track to be one of the most oppressive listening experiences I’ve had in years, similar to how overwhelming your first listen of Mortem’s Slow Death should be. This EP gives the listener another bout of uncomfortable yet compelling listening. This is the sort of black metal I remember Germany was capable of, before everything turned into a heavy metal “party” atmosphere which made me lose interest in a lot of bands. Fucking warped, harsh, ritualistic black metal, one of the most interesting new bands around right now. -N.J.

Haxenzijrkell <i>Des Lasters de Zaubery</i>

MORDOM Eternal Solitude (Transylvanian Tapes)

Self-described "transcendental death doom" from San Diego, Mordom's atmospheric, heavy take on a classic style sets them apart from the greater West Coast doom metal scene. Taking cues from atmospheric black metal (I do love a good "doom blast"), Eternal Solitude's lengthy progressions and ear for large, resonant spaces present themselves as a weird cross-section of doom at its most funereal and black metal at its most abstract and billowing. -J.R.

Mordom <i>Eternal Solitude</i>

OSSA CORONATA To Leave the Body (Moonworshipper)

To Leave the Body is something like a B-sides compilation from that dreadweaver Ossa Coronata who’s had a sleeper-hold on the stateside dark ambient scene for the past year since releasing their debut tape, Ander Lant. For a “collection of non-album appearances and unreleased material,” To Leave the Body manifests remarkably cohesively, like the unfurling journey through a dream where the sights and sounds change, but the feeling remains consistent. In the instance of To Leave the Body, that feeling is one of longing for a past you’re not sure was ever your own. Twinkled melodies repeat ouroborically, plaintive calls from beyond the veil bleed into a fugue of intense, suffocating and implacable peace. Amid Side’s B’s static field of suspended pianos and possessed theremins, a dissociative, out-of-body uneasiness supplants almost all corporeal awareness. A highly recommended experience. - J. Proust

Ossa Coronata <i>To Leave the Body</i>

REGNUM TENEBRARUM Regnum Tenebrarum (Medieval Prophecy Records)

This spellbook of Belgian black magic comes to us from the now prolific circle of bands on the roster of Medieval Prophecy Records. Sharing members with Crypts of Wallachia and Orkblut among others, Regnum Tenebrarum put forth a debut demo free of naivety or callowness. Straight forward black metal power, tastefully adorned with echoing keyboards that does not need to hide behind cassette hiss or high-contrast band photos to get its point across. While perhaps this won't appeal to those looking for an entirely new strain of extreme music, listeners who appreciate devotion and adherence to the old ways over contemporary trends will no doubt appreciate what is on display here. -R.L.

Regnum Tenebrarum <i>Regnum Tenebrarum</i>

SKRAVL En Higen Mod Tilintetgoresen (Nattetale)

Denmark’s Korpsand bands are the closest thing we’re going to get to the early Black Circle or LLN bands, not stylistically but in the sense that this is a collective of brilliant musicians with a myriad of projects that are all pushing boundaries of excellence in the genre. Skravl is near the front of the pack for me as both this and their previous “Fire Besværgelser mod Menneskeheden” tape are simply fucking great. Skravl is triumphant but also understated, epic black metal without the fucking pomp if that all somehow makes sense. The one thing that hangs at me the most about this project is there’s something special (to me, anyway) about their guitar tone, it’s just fucking perfect. Hopefully this year will bring a full-length or, at the very least, a new recording. -N.J.

Skravl <i>En Higen Mod Tilintetgoresen</i>

SPECTRES AND TEETH No Magick Spawns! (Into Endless Chaos Records)

It's going to get a little spooky. Spectres and Teeth make black metal which could very well take place in an abandoned Victorian mansion. The ghost is at your door, armed with stomping riffs and gnashing, animalistic vocals. Though steeped in anonymity, similarities to certain fellow Austrian black metal hordes can be heard in this colorful debut EP. And these vocals are no joke: ranging from falsetto screams to gravel-gargling rasps, the mysterious voice behind these shrieks and growls is doing some serious damage to his throat for our entertainment. -J.R.

Spectres and Teeth <i>No Magick Spawns!</i>

TRIUMPHAL PROCESSION Triumphal Procession (Self-released)

On Triumphal Procession, their four-song, double-sided, self-titled demo this Sherbooke, Québec-based black doom project drag out the long-dead corpse of black metal to beat it slowly and crudely with blunt riffs and melodies like eroded epitaphs. The execution bears a primitive stoop, but the compositions speak to a higher awareness if not a deeper understanding. A love for occult doom like Paul Chain as well as a certain Beheritian recklessness with the black arts governs this darkly charming little demo featuring one of my favorite monsters from Jason and the Argonauts. Here’s hoping I can catch the next Triumphal Procession as well. -J. Proust

Triumphal Procession <i>Triumphal Procession</i>

ŬKCHEĂNSĂLÂWIT Alaskan Escape (Les Productions Hérétiques)

Recent years have seen an explosion of indigenous black metal popularity in the underground (although many forget that indigenous people have been contributing to the scene for decades) and while it seems some individuals have already begun to misunderstand and/or fetishize these bands, the artists themselves remain steadfast in their commitment to honoring their culture and heritage through their music. Ŭkcheănsălâwit made their debut very early in 2020 and after a couple of digital only singles and reissues, with the help of Les Productions Hérétiques they put forth the follow up to that first glimpse. Alaskan Escape is true worship of nature where human being and the natural world become one. The music is harsh and frozen but played with such conviction and expertly enhanced with very evocative use of synths that it transcends its brutal trappings and becomes genuinely moving. In that way it reminds one of the legardairly inspirational Ildjarn who too fused his intense reverence for nature with unrivaled black metal primitivism. Truly a high watermark for black metal cassette tapes so early in the year. -R.L.

Ŭkcheănsălâwit <i>Alaskan Escape</i>