Volume Two, October MMXX



The follow-up to the Australian artist’s monumental 2019 demo of cosmic, romantic raw black metal fueled by ethereal synths. Much as we hear on the project's preceding demo, here are three songs dripping with intimate melancholy contrasted with the coldness of outer space. Demo II also continues the band’s signature of long, slowly unfolding melodies and monumental, post-rock-reminiscent build-ups capped off with dramatic pauses. There are some non-black metal influences at work as well, but their secrets are well mixed into the project's overall sonic mastery. Celestial Conjuration has also stepped up their production quite a bit, but it retains the murk and otherworldliness that made the project's initial demo so attractive. Wondrously detailed and evocative J-card artwork and a charming, hand decorated cassette shell complete the visual element of this standout release.

Celestial Conjuration <i>Demo II</i>

BLOOD TOWER/MAGIC FIND Apotropaion (Moonworshipper)

Two of the most creative, avant-garde, and influential purveyors of dungeon synth/dark ambient pair up for this doozie of a split. Blood Tower is a long-running Moonworshipper project that presents us here with four tracks of barbaric, eerily straightforward lo-fi dungeon synth. This project’s creator is no stranger to unique instrumentation and, in addition to pianos and dark synths, a wide variety of curious sounds are brought to the table here. Magic Find, on the B side, continues its tradition of producing some of the most obscure and unnervingly beautiful ambient music of all time. This particular composition is a bit prettier than usual at the outset but descends, as only this project can, into a positively hair-raising sonic glimpse of an ancient, subterranean alternate dimension.


VARIOUS ARTISTS New Jersey Metal Attack Vol. 5 (NVNM Productions)

New Jersey’s finest cabal of heavy metal maniacs are back with the latest in their legendary series of compilation tapes. Largely (but not exclusively) featuring groups comprised of NVNM’s core players, one of the many reasons these comps are so successful is the wide variety of styles presented on each one. Volume 5 is no different, opening with the pure old school heavy metal of The Gauntlet and continuing with one filthy low-tuned death metal cut from each of established projects Altar of Gore and Blasphematory. A more traditional old school death metal track from Burial Stone follows, and a lengthy track of frozen, nostalgic black metal in the vein of Paysage d'Hiver or Drudkh from surprising new NVNM entity Apex Winter finishes the comp. The New Jersey Metal Attack series is a must listen for any enthusiast of the raw unpolished filth of yesteryear’s demos, combined nicely with unique and modern writing sensibilities.

<i>New Jersey Metal Attack Vol. 5</i>

UNHOLY VAMPYRIC SLAUGHTER SECT The World Trapped in Vampyric Sway (Darker and Darker) (Crown and Throne Ltd.)

The World Trapped in Vampyric Sway, the third full-length from Connecticut-based one-man black metal death cult UVSS howls blood-drunk with ambition and arrogance unchecked. On The World… UVSS’ Kane chops off the head of nowadays raw black metal and sodomizes its gaping neckhole with experimental electronic freakmentations, unabashed hardcore and a most hostile mix job. Given its evil audacity, its barbed-soul sadism and its absolutely maniacal intent, The World… proves a vast and hellish experience despite its all-too-brief running time.

Unholy Vampyric Slaughter Sect <i>The World Trapped in Vampyric Sway (Darker and Darker)</i>

WITCHES DANCE Demo (NVNM Productions)

It doesn’t get much more nostalgic than these New Jersey devils’ four-song demo tape. Witches Dance sounds like your Uncle Bill’s band from the early ‘80s. You’re like, “Uncle Bill, this is sick like St. Vitus, or Danzig, or like Witchfinder General”—but Uncle Bill’s not listening. He’s moving in on your girlfriend. Likewise this tape’s got libido for days. Riffs, too. Bare-ass layout and the cover’s just their Mortuary Drape-looking logo with a little heads up about its top two bangers in some badass font, all like this is a genuine demo from back in the demo. None of it feels like gimmickry, though. Instead it’s air-tight execution of a specific sound, look and feeling.

Witches Dance <i>Demo</i>

TEMPLE OF THE FRACTURED LIGHT Hymnals (Lightfall Records)

Hymnals compiles two of the best underground ambient releases of the year into a single tape. With melodies reminiscent of high school science class documentaries on VHSs, Temple of the Fractured Light invite their listeners to take a cosmic voyage beyond the horizon, beyond the veil, deep into the unknown. Side A, for all its organs and spacey quiescence, plays out like intergalactic gospel for some secular, yet all-knowing deity, but Side B’s where the magic truly lies. Here one gets the feeling they really are in the presence of something beautiful, but just out-of-reach. From its artwork to its approach, Temple of the Fractured Light exudes vibes both familiar and awesome.

Temple of the Fractured Light <i>Hymnals</i>